SEES MORE CHILDREN PLAYING TENNIS
Ashley Marshall | October 15, 2018
More children in more neighborhoods are playing tennis than ever before, thanks to a third consecutive year of diversity and inclusion grants aimed at reaching Hispanic communities across America.
Started in 2016, the annual National Junior Tennis and Learning Network’s (NJTL) Hispanic Outreach Grants saw a record number of youngsters picking up a racquet for the first time in 2018.
In partnership with the USTA Foundation, 1,938 new children were introduced to tennis this year through the initiative, which saw $40,000 awarded to support the recipients’ efforts in increasing Hispanic youth participation in their programs.
Of those almost 2,000 children who attended a Hispanic outreach kick-off event this summer, nearly 1,000 children went on to join a six-week program in their community.
The 56-percent conversion rate was in large part due to the fact that almost nine in 10 kickoff events engaged bilingual coaches and three-quarters of all programs utilized bilingual marketing in their efforts.
“We have made some tremendous strides in our efforts in engaging with multiple Hispanic communities and programs that impact these communities all around the country,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams.
“At the start of my tenure four years ago, I made it my mission to see to it that our sport grows and thrives specifically amongst this demographic.
We have put in the work of educating ourselves and equipping our section and regional teams with the proper tools and resources needed in order to generate outstanding impact.”
Since 2016, the USTA has awarded $116,000 in grants to a total of 27 new NJTL programs. That has resulted in around 4,700 new players being introduced to the sport, including a record 1,938 in 2018 alone.
In addition, through the Hispanic Outreach Grants, a total of $31,500 was awarded to 15 local community tennis and other outreach organizations to increase participation by hosting outreach events and follow-up initiatives.
Between the outreach efforts of NJTL chapters and the work being done by the 17 individual USTA sections, more than 15,000 children from Hispanic communities have been introduced to tennis over the past three years.
In 2015, the USTA launched Hispanic outreach pilots in test markets across the U.S. The following year, more than 2,600 new participants had registered in entry-level programs in these markets, and in 2017, more than 3,800 new players had registered. This year, an additional 4,100 new players have joined tennis programs at the grassroots level.
As of 2016, eight states had a population in which the percentage of non-Hispanic white residents was below 60 percent, and last year, five states’ populations had minorities in the majority, according to reports.
In 2018, the NJTL chapters that hosted Hispanic outreach events included: National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton in Trenton, N.J.; First Serve Miami; Houston Tennis Association; NJTL Fort Collins in Fort Collins, Colo.; Posh Rock Tennis Foundation in Ocoee, Fla.; Metropolitan Tennis & Education Group in Laurel, Md.; First Serve Bridgeport in Hamden, Conn.; San Antonio Tennis Association; Down the Line and Beyond in Philadelphia; and Multicultural Tennis Association in Las Vegas.
Each NJTL picked a local community with a large percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents and hosted an outreach event, followed by a six-week program. Among the highlights of NJTL programming, the Houston Tennis Association added a mid-day tennis program in the gym at Moody Community Center in addition to an outdoor afternoon tennis program on the park courts, located in an area where 85 percent of public school attendance is Hispanic. Classes were free to participants, and bilingual tennis coaches provided instruction, equipment and supplies. Of the 88 players who participated, 72 were brand new to the program, and 75 were Hispanic or Latino.
Elsewhere, in Fort Collins, the NJTL hosted Lunchtime Tennis at Putnam Elementary School, Irish Elementary School 71 and Lincoln Middle School, which range from 49 percent to 75 percent Hispanic.
A total of 224 players participated in the program, including 192 who were brand new to the program and 129 who were Hispanic or Latino. Almost 100 players from these programs matriculated into the after-school tennis program that NJTL of Fort Collins provides at the local boys' and girls' club.
“It all starts with our youth, and what a great accomplishment it is when we can positively change their lives through our sport,” Adams said. “I could not be more proud of the D&I team for leading these efforts in developing the best strategies on ways to properly engage. The future is certainly bright, with tremendous opportunities within tennis still to come for Hispanic youth as well as their families.”