ROLL WITH IT MONTHLY
HARNETT'S BIG PLANS
Jason Allen | June 1, 2017
Jason Harnett started as the USTA’s National Manager for Wheelchair Tennis last October, and in a short period of time he has made a significant impact.
Harnett’s early work has been centered on taking advantage of the new structure at the USTA – the opening of the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., and a new relationship between Wheelchair Tennis and USTA Player Development.
“The move to the USTA National Campus has been extremely beneficial for Wheelchair Tennis, and we are all excited about the future,” said Harnett.
Wheelchair Tennis is certainly not the only department that has taken advantage of the new surroundings. At the National Campus, all USTA departments are housed under one roof. This has led to an unprecedented opportunity for Harnett to work with Player Development on a daily basis and forge new relationships with some of the best coaches in the country.
This new relationship has also given Wheelchair Tennis high performance players direct access to Player Development’s facilities. So far, one training camp has occurred and there are three more on the schedule for the rest of the year.
Harnett, in the last few months, has been reviewing all wheelchair programming and, in doing so, has identified some gaps. One of the biggest is the lack of opportunity for wheelchair players at the collegiate level. A few universities are currently providing tennis opportunities, but Harnett’s vision is to see an entire nationwide collegiate wheelchair tennis program that can effectively bridge the gap between junior play to professional play.
“In the able-bodied world, there are vast opportunities for promising young players to hone their skills at the collegiate level before turning pro,” Harnett said. “We need to up our game here as well and try to get many other colleges to start wheelchair tennis teams.”
Finally, he added, “These are indeed exciting times for USTA Wheelchair Tennis. With these new opportunities, we will surely be able to grow the sport. It is important to recognize the amazing efforts of [former Wheelchair Tennis National Manager] Dan James in the past 20 years. He was able to grow wheelchair tennis without all of the things at our disposal. I am honored to replace him in this job and hope to do him proud.”