In their own words: Marcia Bach on tennis in the public parks
July is National Park and Recreation Month, and it’s also the month the National Public Parks Tennis Championships (NPPTC) take place. This year, the NPPTC was hosted by the Bucks County (Pa.) Tennis Association and supported by the Bucks County Tourism Grant Program, and was the first time since 1926 that the event returned to the Philadelphia area. (For more on the NPPTC, visit its website.)
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the NPPTC, which was started in 1923 in St. Louis by tennis legend Dwight Davis (founder of the Davis Cup international team competition), who was the city’s parks commissioner. The 2023 tournament will return to its birthplace, St. Louis.
In honor of National Park and Recreation Month and the NPPTC, we’ve asked volunteer leaders who have been instrumental with public parks tennis and with the tournament over the years to share their thoughts on the importance tennis in the public parks has played throughout the history of this sport in the United States. Up next: Marcia Bach.
For more than 50 years, I’ve been privileged to be able to combine my love for parks, recreation and tennis to help enrich lives and enhance experiences in my community.
I began playing tennis as a young girl at my local park, and I soon realized how important public parks, and parks & recreation tennis programs, are to this sport—so much so that my career path has been associated with both parks & recreation and the USTA.
I have been involved with tennis for more than 50 years as part of the parks & recreation staff in Bloomington, Minn. (where I live), the first Executive Director of the USTA Northern section, the USTA national Tennis in the Parks coordinator, and as a volunteer for with the USTA and National Public Parks Tennis Association (NPPTA).
I currently serve on the USTA Northern Hall of Fame Committee and the USTA National Public Parks Committee, working with so many outstanding volunteers who share my passion for the sport.
Although I’m semi-retired, I continue to coordinate the adult tennis leagues for Bloomington Parks & Recreation, which I started 50 years ago! It’s wonderful to now see the third generation of players in our adult leagues, as the grandchildren of some of the original league members are taking to our public courts for league play. This summer, I was thrilled to see that one of our mixed doubles league players is someone I had hired as a tennis instructor for the public parks 40 years ago!
I became involved with the National Public Parks Tennis Association in 1977, when I was first elected to the Board of Directors—and I’ve now continued to serve on the board for 45 years. It has been a gift to help support the National Public Parks Tennis Championships (NPPTC) in cities across the country.
The first NPPTC was held in St. Louis, Mo., in 1923, founded by Dwight Davis (of Davis Cup fame), who was the St. Louis parks commissioner at the time. We’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the NPPTC next year from June 21-25, 2023, back where it all began in St. Louis.
The National Public Parks Tennis Championships creates pride in every community it reaches, and results in park and facility improvements. Every year, it is an important reminder about the impact of public park tennis, and of the millions who play on our public courts.