USTA Pride Month Spotlight: Anne Davis
To celebrate Pride Month, USTA.com, in conjunction with the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Department and Partners Business Resource Group (BRG), is spotlighting USTA administrators who are members of the LGBTQ+ community and the role that they play in making tennis a welcoming space for all. Up next is Anne Davis, Director of Provider Education.
In her 15-year career at the USTA, which she estimates has spanned a half-dozen different roles, Anne Davis (pictured, far left) has dedicated herself to one consistent guiding principle: the education of others.
As Director of Provider Education based at the USTA National Campus, Davis helps ensure that the USTA's 17 sections have access to the proper resources to implement tennis programming in their local communities, and uses her role to help them put theory into practice.
"Our department works with all of community tennis to try and help them develop what they want and need, education-wise," she said. "We're creating curriculum, and [it's about] how we make that curriculum come to life."
Davis' USTA legacy of fostering knowledge through tennis is not just limited to on-court instruction, but is also the logical progression of her life's work towards equality for all. Born and raised in Florida, where she's resided for her whole life, the Tampa native got her start in the sport in a time that was crucial for women and girls as a whole.
"Growing up, there were no [youth] team sports for girls, but I was lucky enough to go to a Catholic school that had a very extensive girls' sports program. I was involved in a lot of different sports, and I loved team sports," she said.
"There were no team sports in the summer, but the city I lived in built four tennis courts across the street from my house. The city came by and would do summer tennis clinics as a part of summer camps, and then I started playing tennis with my family from there."
After her playing career concluded at the University of South Florida, Davis began her career as a tennis mentor and educator as a young adult. Shortly after turning 23 years old, she first had the opportunity to advocate for inclusion in organized tennis as a collegiate head coach.
She coached the Florida State University women's tennis team from 1980-87, where she was named the 1980 Metro Conference Coach of the Year. Over her tenure, she compiled a 141-105 record in eight seasons, while her teams reached a peak national ranking of No. 18 and a best seeding of sixth place in the 1982 AIAW Championships.
"The great part of coaching college tennis was the interaction with the players," she said. "At that time, when I started coaching, it was right at the beginning of Title IX. Being able to see young women get these incredible opportunities to not only play a sport but get their education paid for was really big."
After coaching collegiately, Davis moved into private coaching before ultimately arriving in an administrative role at the USTA. Fostering a diverse environment at the top of tennis, Davis says, is "crucial" in the sport's quest for equity, especially at the youth and grasssroots levels.
"I think tennis has been really fortunate to have some incredible activist players, from Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Arthur Ashe, Leslie Allen, Katrina Adams—players like that who helped us to face what tennis was not looking at. They helped turn the mirror on tennis to say, 'We need to do a better job,'" she said.
"I think the USTA has done a great deal, tennis-wise and in the corporate world [in advancing the LGBTQ+ community]. The organization was right up there with other big corporations in terms of providing partner benefits, and I applaud them for everything they've done for recognition of LGBTQ+ folks within the organization. The USTA is not a place, as an employee, where you have to hide at all.
"There has always been a really big gay tennis community, through the gay tennis leagues and the worldwide tour, and maybe in the past five to seven years, the two groups have really come together and started talking and doing events together."
Despite the progress that has been made, however, she also recognizes that there is always work to still be done.
"We've had many discussions around inclusion, especially as it relates to Black Lives Matter, in regards to Net Generation and the community curriculums and materials that we've created," she continued.
"If what we represent and what we have allows children to look and say, 'That person looks like me,' and everybody who's out there educating young children is talking about these issues, I think that we can really do something where it's not just a cliché. I think we really have that opportunity through tennis."
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