USTA announces partnership with Athleta to empower women and girls in tennis
A new and transformative partnership between the USTA and Athleta will see the women’s performance-lifestyle brand serve as one of the official sponsors of USTA League, USTA Player Development Teaching Professional Initiatives and the girls' USTA Foundation Excellence Team for the next three years.
The partnership will aim to empower women and girls and reach new audiences of active tennis players.
Athleta’s organizational mission is to empower women and girls to reach their limitless potential, and with more than 22.6 million people taking to tennis courts around the country in 2021, this new sponsorship represents an opportunity to capitalize on tennis’ significant growth and provide additional touchpoints that will introduce the Athleta brand to the USTA’s growing member base of active individuals.
“Athleta is proud to add USTA to our roster of purpose driven partners, focused on our mission of empowering women and girls,” said Athleta president and CEO Mary Beth Laughton. “Between our innovative tennis product and accessories, expanding access to girls from underserved communities, and focusing on more diversity in the next-generation of leaders in tennis coaching, this partnership is poised to make a significant impact on the sport.”
Athleta’s tennis collection includes an array of products across its women’s and girls’ lines. As part of the partnership, Athleta created a curated selection of skorts and dresses; breathable, ultra-lightweight tanks; and tennis accessories that can be worn to a tennis match or on a simple run around the neighborhood.
“We could not be more excited to partner with Athleta. They share our commitment to health, wellness and inclusivity.” said Lew Sherr, USTA CEO, and Executive Director. “All three of the USTA initiatives that Athleta will be partnering with us on are areas where the USTA is trying to open more opportunities for women of all backgrounds as we continue to grow tennis at every level.”
Other facets of the sponsorship include content creation and expanded shopping experiences for USTA members and attendees at USTA events, and will activate across three key areas:
USTA League – With more than 300,000 players participating each year, USTA League is the country’s largest adult competitive tennis league. It’s a great way for participants to stay active, improve their tennis game, and have the chance to compete for a National Championship. League play starts at the local level for players ages 18 and over, and is primarily organized according to the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) by age group. Top teams from local leagues earn the chance to compete in district and/or sectional championships, while the winners of sectionals advance to the USTA League National Championships. Athleta’s engagement will seek to elevate the National Championship experience and increase player participation.
USTA Player Development Teaching Professional Initiatives – USTA Player Development’s Tennis Coaching & Leadership Fellowship powered by Athleta just completed its inaugural class, and looks to train the next generation of leaders in tennis coaching through an integrative approach that focuses on the core competencies of foundational coaching. The Fellowship provides young and aspiring professionals with a world-class learning and training opportunity with the USTA and is structured to deliver significant experiential and leadership training while concurrently completing the Level 2 Certification requirements with the USPTA or PTR.
USTA Foundation Excellence Team – Excellence Program athletes participate in National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) tennis and education programs around the country, and are chosen for the Excellence Program based on their elite level of tennis ability, educational outcomes and commitment to the pathway to become student-athletes at the collegiate and professional levels. The Excellence Program ensures the best coaching and resources are available to kids with the desire, athletic potential and financial need. Local chapters are encouraged to generate outside funding for sustainability, and kids learn the importance of hard work, grit and graciousness. As NJTLs embody the USTA Foundation's mission to bring tennis and education together to change lives, Excellence Program events integrate tennis on-court activities and educational off-court activities. Currently, close to 350 promising athletes from 19 NJTL chapters participate in Excellence Teams. They are provided additional resources designed to provide coaching, equipment and tournament travel at no cost to underserved junior tennis players from under-resourced populations who would otherwise never have the chance to even play.