Missouri Valley / Iowa

CTA Feature: Great River Tennis Association

Tammy Arbuckle | May 01, 2020

The Great River Tennis Association (GRTA) in Muscatine is a volunteer organization of tennis players in the Muscatine Community who share their skills to mentor young players, both in their tennis game and in becoming model citizens. The organization, founded in 1975, was incorporated as a not-for-profit in 2004. The goals and direction of the organization changed to promote the sport of tennis for players of all ages; however, the primary emphasis is on the development and mentoring of youth players.


Cindy Klebe is the Director of Great River Tennis, the association’s USPTA Tennis Instructor and the Director of the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open Tournament. A USPTA Professional for six years, she has actively been teaching for the past five years. In addition to her time on the tennis court, Klebe is also the administrator for GRTA’s website.  


Klebe is in her fourth year organizing and recruiting for the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open Tournament scheduled for July 10-12.


“Our volunteers come together to put on a one of a kind tournament the kids and parents really enjoy,” Klebe said. “The special touch is the fact that our volunteers really put forth the extra effort to ‘take care’ of the players. We provide the players lunch, Gatorade, first aid if needed, and tennis goodie bags with tennis towels and more.”


In 2019, GRTA won the Outstanding Junior Tournament Award from USTA Iowa.


Carol Ward is the association president and “has been the mainstay of the association and is always available to help me out when needed,” according to Klebe. 


There are eight outdoor public courts that the association utilizes as well as eight newly refurbished courts at the Muscatine High School that are available. 


Klebe has nearly 240 junior and adult players signed up. Currently, the 10U program has 14 players. There are six active players ranging in age from 11 to 14. GRTA has 17 players in the 15 to 18 age group and 13 adult players.


What advice does Klebe have for players while USTA activities are suspended?


“Keeping players active by working on racquet skills and footwork consistently, and committing to a 4-5 times a week exercise plan that includes cardio endurance, speed, balance and agility.”


Though Klebe’s tennis background began in her adult years, her passion is impossible to miss.


“I didn’t discover tennis until about 16 years ago. I was taking a lesson from the Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department and loved it! I was playing slow-pitch softball at the time, but when my team decided to stop playing, that’s when I decided to take up tennis and get on some USTA teams,” Klebe said. “I was encouraged by a longtime USPTA instructor to consider taking the course and becoming a USPTA instructor. So, after I thought about it, I figured I would enjoy that, and here I am today.”


GRTA’s mission statement is to develop a sustainable program to promote tennis for children, youth and adults in the Muscatine Community. 


“One thing I’m working on is ’Nature’s Native Tree Project.’ The project will be a fundraiser for GRTA. In a nutshell, I will be asking the Muscatine tennis community to consider donating $25 and in return, they will get a native, deciduous, RPM tree that is 3.5-5 feet tall (depending on the species).


Better yet, though, I will plant it for them! These trees are of the highest quality trees due to their Root Production Method of growing from seed to tree and come in a root container size of 11”X 7 1/8”. I’m a park ranger for the US Army Corps of Engineers, so I like trees and wanted a way to combine the love of tennis with trees!”

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