Women Leadership Paving the Way in the Mid-Atlantic
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we wrap up the celebration of the remarkable women that are using tennis to build character, community, and well-being in the Mid-Atlantic.
In 2023, we celebrate our Centennial and acknowledge how much has changed in the last century, particularly for women in the sport. Today, USTA Mid-Atlantic is a women-led nonprofit organization. In every leadership role, a woman is in the position. From our CEO to our Board Officers, this dynamic group of women guide our strategic plan and push us to succeed on our mission in creating access for tennis and charting a course for the next 100 years of tennis in the region for you, future generations and all people. Read how they are each paving the way in finding and developing ways for more women and girls to play tennis.
Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, Chief Executive Officer
Q: This year is USTA Mid-Atlantic's 100th anniversary, in what ways do you think tennis has evolved in the region over the last 100 years?
A: The legacy of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region is historic. With coaches and players such as Whirlwind Johnson and Arthur Ashe, our Mid-Atlantic community is rooted by the legacies of incredible people that have given back, inspired and thus helped break down barriers to grow the sport of tennis. It’s both humbling and exciting to think we have reached such a milestone such as our Centennial. Things have inevitably changed over time but one thing that remains the same is the tenacity and hard work of our tennis community and the mission to grow the sport for ALL. Tennis has grown and continues to grow with 1.2 million playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic as of 2022. Our mission to make the sport accessible for all continues, and we firmly believe that tennis and our mission will impact the lives of generations to come in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.
Kathy Renzetti, President
Q: Why is it important to increase access to tennis and other sports for women?
A: Nelson Mandela said, “Sport has the power to change the world.” Melinda French Gates said, “If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high-leverage investment you can make in human beings.”
Numerous studies show that when women have access to tennis and other sports, it increases their confidence and leadership skills – empowering them in their personal and professional lives. Women athletes serve as role models for girls showing them how to overcome adversity and shatter traditional stereotypes placed on women. Sport creates safe spaces for girls and women to really shine.
As Board President of the USTA Mid-Atlantic, I couldn’t be prouder of our newest program, Girls Rule the Court™. It embodies all of the above. Participants create meaningful and beneficial connections while learning about teamwork, empowerment, and the benefits of physical activity.
Women’s History Month reminds us of the importance of access for all in tennis and other sports.
Tynika Wilson, Vice President
Q: What advice would you like to give to the next generation of women leaders?
A: Based on my experience as a Black woman, executive leader and avid tennis player, my advice is to:
Be intentional in all that you do, especially when it comes to building your career. Play to your unique strengths and find mentors, resources, and opportunities to help you achieve your professional goals.
As a leader, not every day, project, or interaction is going to be a success, no matter how hard you try. As a leader and a woman, you might be juggling responsibilities at home as well as at work. You need to be resilient in order to endure. Think of a tree in a storm: all the branches are waving around wildly, but the trunk is resilient to all that’s happening.
We’re living in a world of continuous change. Being adaptable and having an agile mindset are essential elements of business leadership today. Stay curious and continue your learning to stay ahead of new tools and strategies.
As women, we’ve made significant progress in the workforce, but we still face challenges. As the future of female leadership, you need to continue the change and be the change!
Sally Travis, Vice President of Development
Q: What is most special about having all women in leadership at USTA Mid-Atlantic?
A: The diversity that our group brings to the board room is not only special but very exciting to our organization. Leadership in our group comes from many different business environments and as we work together, we bring real-life experiences that help look at the future and how we can accomplish our mission and goals.
Nicole Montgomery, Secretary/Treasurer
Q: What do you hope the next 100 years of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic looks like?
A: The Mid-Atlantic has a vibrant tennis community, and we are passionate about introducing new players to the sport that we love. In the new century, we look forward to unveiling a state-of-art tennis facility that will create more access and opportunity for people from all over the region to experience the benefits of playing this lifelong sport. Tennis is a fun way to stay healthy, build lasting friendships, increase confidence, and develop a growth mindset. My hope is that each person in our region finds their personal connection to tennis. I look forward to the day when local tennis courts in every community in the Mid-Atlantic are overflowing with people of all different ages and backgrounds who are excited to pick up their racquets and meet for a friendly game.
Beth Twomey, Chief Operating Officer
Q: What has surprised you most about tennis and its impact in the Mid-Atlantic region?
A: Tennis has a unique ability to infuse character building traits and social/emotional learning into play opportunities.
However, girls are less likely to be exposed to all of these incredible benefits because of lack of access to sport. Boys receive 1.1 million more sport opportunities per year than girls, with only one-third of girls age 6-12 participating in sports on a regular basis. Girls of color have the least opportunities to participate in sports of any demographic group of youth in the U.S. We knew we had to do something about that.
Last year, we piloted a female only youth program called Girls Rule the Court™. It is a low to no cost program for girls ages 7-13 to promote health, wellness, and teamwork while building self esteem through tennis. Women coach, volunteer and mentor the girls - and the girls get to see and connect with women in leadership roles from various backgrounds and industries. The response from the community has been incredible. We were able to serve 200 girls in 2022.
As we continue to expand the program as well as other programs across our organization, I am excited about what the future holds and the proactive steps we are taking to provide access and exposure to the sport for generations to come.
The women who lead us continue to break barriers in the tennis community and beyond the courts. They are beacons of inspiration for others to follow. As USTA Mid-Atlantic looks toward the next 100 years of tennis, the thread that connects our past, present and future is great leadership and a deep commitment to our mission and vision of tennis in EVERY community and for all.
Join us in our Centennial Celebration where you can find once in a century opportunities! Catch up on our other amazing Women's History Month spotlights by subscribing to USTA Mid-Atlantic’s YouTube Channel and following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This year USTA Mid-Atlantic, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is celebrating 100 years of promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Get involved and show your support for the next 100 years of tennis. Learn about our impact in the region and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.