2023 USTA Annual Meeting Awards: First Serve – New Mexico recognized as NJTL of the Year
Eight advocates for the sport of tennis at the grassroots and local levels were honored with seven awards at the 2023 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.
WATCH: First Serve – New Mexico recognized as NJTL of the Year
First Serve – New Mexico of Santa Fe, N.M. was honored with the NJTL of the Year Award at the 2023 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference for the difference its making in the life of under-resourced youth in the community. The mission of First Serve — New Mexico is to strengthen the lives and enhance the character of Santa Fe’s children through education, life skills and tennis.
First Serve – New Mexico was founded on the belief that the combination of these activities in a supportive environment can change a child’s total trajectory in academics, life skills, and tennis; transform a child’s life from apathy to involvement, and from shyness to confidence; and give each child both a stronger sense of self, and an inherent respect for others. For 19 years, First Serve – New Mexico has provided outstanding programming to Santa Fe youth, and innovative offerings, including virtual tutoring and smaller on-court player-to-coach ratios, during the COVID-19 pandemic helped the group maintain programming in a time where all other after-school programs were canceled. Its summer tennis camp saw more than 160 participants, three times the usual number of attendees, and many were first-time players.
Over the years, many of the program's graduating seniors have gone on to college and graduate schools on scholarship. This past year, the Santa Fe High School tennis team boasted a total of 11 athletes from the NJTL: six girls and five boys. In the spring season, one doubles team finished first in divisionals and third in the state.
First Serve – New Mexico prides itself on transparent accountability through a detailed reporting system, an attention to detail that sets it apart from other organizations. The program keeps quarterly records of how the students are performing in classes, and collects comments from teachers, parents, coaches, and the students themselves, to ensure that programming is meeting the needs of the whole child. This diligent system of reporting helps the NJTL provide specialized instruction in the classroom and on the courts to develop its scholar-athletes.
“We are proud to honor the important work being done at First-Serve – New Mexico as they celebrate their 20th anniversary,” Craig Morris, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA, said. “The commitment from the leaders of First Serve – New Mexico in delivering programs and resources that emphasize tennis, education and well-being is truly empowering the entire Santa Fe community and helping children reach their full potential.”
The USTA bestows the NJTL of the Year Award to chapters that positively impact youth through the powerful combination of tennis and education. Founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder, the NJTL network is a nationwide group of more than 250 nonprofit youth development organizations. Supported by the USTA Foundation through financial grants, scholarship opportunities, curricula, technical assistance and training, the NJTL network provides free or low-cost tennis and education programming to more than 160,000 under-resourced youth nationwide.