Q&A: An update on the
USTA National Campus
Jackie Finn | May 11, 2016
The USTA broke ground on the USTA National Campus, the new Home of American Tennis, in April 2015, with plans to have the facility completed late in 2016. The 64-acre, 100-court campus, located in Orlando, Fla., is a one-of-a-kind facility that will serve as host to local play for residents of the Orlando community as well as for national, individual and collegiate events. It also will serve as the home base for USTA Player Development and the USTA’s Community Tennis division.
USTA National Campus General Manager Tim Cass spoke with USTA.com recently about the progress being made in Orlando and what tennis enthusiasts can look forward to when the facility is completed.
Cass comes to the USTA from the University of New Mexico, where he has spent the past nine years working in a variety of top athletic administrative positions, most recently as Chief Operations Officer. ADVERTISEMENT
USTA.com: How has the construction progressed since the USTA broke ground at the National Campus, and when is the scheduled opening day?
Tim Cass: [The project is] on schedule and on budget. We are preparing for an official public opening in early-January 2017. The main office building which will house all of community tennis and numerous shared service personnel will be open July 11th 2016.
As of this moment, the 64 acre campus is taking shape every day. It is amazing to see the progress and watch this incredible vision become a reality.
USTA.com: More specifically, when will the facility be open to the public? And what will be available to those players?
Cass: The public opening will take place when the campus opens in early-January. On a day-to-day basis, almost every aspect of the campus will be available to the public, with the exception of the Player Development-specific areas. There will be select times throughout the year that this area will be made available to the public, but every other place on the grounds – including the 32 Har-Tru (green clay) courts, 32 Deco Turf (hard) courts, 16 Family Zone Sport Courts, the retail shop, lobby area, locker rooms, grounds and café – are all public spaces and accessible year round.
USTA.com: How important was that “open to the public” concept in designing and building the USTA National Campus?
Cass: A lot of thought went into the overall layout of the campus, and intertwining common spaces with the actual court experience was a priority. I think people will be excited that four ponds and a view of Lake Nona are worked into the campus as well as the amount of green spaces. In addition, the openness in the pedestrian walkways and gathering spaces will really separate the tennis experience at the National Campus from other tennis facilities around the country and world.
USTA.com: Can you put the opening of the USTA National Campus in context? How important is this to the future of tennis in America – and what does the National Campus provide that is not being offered today?
Cass: From my standpoint, I think the National Campus is something that we should all be incredibly proud of as USTA members and staff and as tennis enthusiasts. To take on a project of this magnitude, that has the opportunity to really be transformational for our sport, is a privilege.
One of the main goals of the campus is to set a new standard for delivery of the sport as it pertains to running tennis tournaments or events. The retail experience, the educational component in terms of how you teach a lesson or run a program, the community experience, the advanced use of technology – all of these elements were looked at when designing and building the campus. We hope the campus will raise the bar in these areas and encourage others in the sport to follow our lead.
USTA.com: The USTA National Campus will house divisions for Community Tennis, Youth Tennis, Player Development, College Tennis, Leagues and more. How will all those different divisions come together?
Cass: One of the greatest facets of the campus is the intertwining of the different pillars of the campus– Player Development, Community Tennis, USTA U, Collegiate, Tournaments/League/Event, Technology – bringing all those functions together on a daily basis is going to be fascinating and exciting. We are going to be able to have some of our best, most accomplished, young male and female rising stars playing next to club-level players, and at the same time at the other end of the campus we could be watching two of the top collegiate teams compete against each other, while also hosting a sectional tournament or USTA Pro Circuit event. All those pieces of the campus interconnecting on a daily basis will really help showcase our sport at all levels.
USTA.com: The USTA National Campus will be home to the elite junior program/USTA Player Development. What facilities will there be for the program and our best promising teenage players?
Cass: One of the greatest parts of the campus is the ability to provide Player Development with its own area. This area features 20 courts, including eight DecoTurf cushion acrylic hard courts, six European Terre Davis red clay courts (over 450 tons of imported Italian red clay) and six Rebound Ace indoor courts. There is also a lodge which can house up to 40 players participating in Player Development training programs.
Additionally, the Player Development headquarters building feature offices, an athletic training area which features a strength and conditioning area, a 120-foot Sportsbase straight track, a sand pit, indoor and outdoor workout areas, and hot and cold pools. This pillar of the campus will provide players the training opportunities and support to reach the highest levels in the sport of tennis.
USTA.com: Will the USTA National Campus have the capability to host tournaments or possibly even Davis and Fed Cup matches?
Cass: We will host 70 tournaments or events in 2017 ranging from USTA Florida section junior and adult, USTA National junior and adult, pro circuit, collegiate, ITF and other special events. There is space that has been allocated if indeed that opportunity presents itself. The facility has been designed to accommodate a future event like a Davis Cup or Fed Cup tie.
USTA.com: There has been a lot of talk about the campus being a state-of-the-art facility. Can you detail the types of technology that will be available to players?
Cass: The official technology partner of the National Campus is PlaySight technologies. This partnership is unique and will provide the campus will a lot of valuable features: all 100 of our courts will have live streaming capabilities, 32 will be equipped with smart court technology that will provide analytical data, replays during broadcast, plug and play commentators and will also allow interface with our on court scoring systems within the live stream.
We will also have our own in-house television network. We’ll be able to utilize the 50 plus screens spread out throughout the campus in a variety of different ways – we can provide updates from within the campus in real time, highlight the different business units of the USTA (i.e., wheelchair tennis, the USTA Foundation, USTA University initiatives, etc.), display an upcoming schedule of events, update scores from matches in progress as well as show highlights from the day, week or even month at the campus.
USTA.com: How does the USTA National Campus serve the overall mission of the USTA, to grow the sport of tennis in the United States?
Cass: The National Campus fits perfectly when you think about the overall mission of the USTA. The fact that we are expecting 100,000 visitors in Year One of operation is an example of how the campus is expected to touch all areas of the sport. It has the ability to reach tennis enthusiasts at the local level, the collegiate level and the professional level. It has the assets to reach players through tournaments and events, to provide an education component, to develop our best young players and aspiring stars. All these elements work together to help develop the game within our country.
USTA.com: What is your vision for the campus in the next three to five years?
Cass: My vision is a vision that I believe is shared by the leadership of the USTA, the board members and our 17 sections – that this is the new Home of American Tennis and the expectation is that it will become a model campus further developing and growing the game of tennis. It will successfully and smoothly integrate all of the pillars of tennis, and it will be a facility where the USTA can continue to innovate, inspire, motivate and educate the customers 364 days of the year.