National Campus ushers in new era for U.S. tennis
The USTA National Campus made its official debut on Thursday, with many special friends from the tennis community on hand to celebrate its opening.
American tennis legends Chris Evert, James Blake and Jim Courier, in addition to Orlando, Fla., Mayor Buddy Dyer; Jennifer Thompson, the Orange Country Commissioner for District 4; and USTA President Katrina Adams, were all in attendance to usher in a new era of American tennis on a postcard January day in central Florida.
Bathed in brilliant sunshine, the National Campus opened its doors ready to welcome players of every level – as well as coaches and spectators – to an unparalleled playing, training and educational experience on 64 acres of tennis paradise at Lake Nona in Orlando.
The ultimate goal of the state-of-the-art facility is to enhance the sport at every level and ensure the continued growth of the sport far into the 21st century.
“For players of every age and every ability, the USTA National Campus will raise the bar on how we deliver tennis, with the goal of making our great sport more accessible to more people than ever before,” Adams said. “If you are into playing tennis – or if you want to be a future coach, official or tournament director – this is your go-to place.”
The new Home of American Tennis offers 100 courts of varying surfaces, providing American pros with a home base to train and residents of the Orlando community a place to play 365 days of the year, all while brushing shoulders with some of the game’s rising stars.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to see the USTA’s vision for a national campus become reality,” said Dyer. “As the ‘New Home of American Tennis,’ Orlando further solidifies itself as a global magnet for sports, health, wealth and wellness innovation.”
Thompson, who grew up in Orlando and played tennis in high school, stressed the amount of opportunity the National Campus will bring to the community.
“It’s the opportunity for the next generation that’s coming behind us,” Thompson said, “whether it’s an economic development opportunity, and the jobs that were created as a result of this, the opportunity to be an anchor for the sports district, or an opportunity to create love for the game of tennis.”
For America's finest players, the National Campus, which offers a mix of Har-Tru Hydro, Plexicushion Acrylic cushion and European red clay courts, provides a home base where they train on any court surface appropriate for that time of year on tour.
“They [players] are blown away by the size and that they have all the surfaces” said Martin Blackman, general manager of USTA Player Development.
In addition to the hard and clay courts, there are also Rebound Ace indoor courts and a cluster of 36-foot and 60-foot SportCourt power game courts for youth instruction and family play. The family areas, hard courts and Har-Tru green clay courts are all available to the public and will be utilized throughout the year for tournaments and more.
The sheer volume of courts on site is only one drawing point for the National Campus. Each court is also equipped with advanced technology, providing players with the best equipment available to improve their games. To that end, the USTA has partnered with PlaySight Technologies, creator of the Smart Court, whose interactive technology provides players with useful data at their fingertips, including ball speed, step count, misses, lobs, aces and more.
“It will be the center of tennis innovations, from live streaming to match analysis, which is really state-of-the-art,” said Evert, who toured the National Campus for the first time on Thursday. “In a nutshell, this USTA National Campus really leaves no stone unturned. The attention to detail has been tremendous and it will enhance our sport at every level.”
Three years in the making, the National Campus joins the glimmering USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as the twin pillars of the USTA's steadfast commitment to growing the sport of tennis in the U.S., from the professional ranks all the way through juniors, seniors and wheelchair divisions.
Courier, the U.S. Davis Cup Captain who makes his home in Lake Nona, was excited to see the National Campus become a reality.
“To see it come to fruition, it’s magical,” said the four-time Grand Slam champion. “This is, without a doubt, the very best tennis facility standing in the world today.”
Or as Adams summed it, “This is nirvana, with nets. Truly heaven, the ‘Home of American Tennis.’”