2018 Year in Review:

Making an Impact

Sally Milano  |  December 18, 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, is taking a look back at the Top 15 storylines, headlines and highlights from the year in American tennis. Now up, we look at several USTA Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and programs that have made an impact this year.

Day in and day out, the USTA strives to promote tennis to future generations of players and fans by removing barriers and creating opportunities wherever possible, so that tennis becomes a true reflection of all of America.


2018 proved to be an incredibly successful year on that front, with several Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives and programs growing the game and bringing more people to the sport.


Here are just a few of the many D&I highlights from the year:


Hispanic outreach sees more children playing tennis


More children in more neighborhoods are playing tennis than ever before, thanks to a third consecutive year of D&I grants aimed at reaching Hispanic communities across the U.S.



The annual NJTL Hispanic Outreach Grants, introduced in 2016, saw a record number of youngsters pick up a racquet for the first time in 2018.


In partnership with the USTA Foundation, 1,938 new children were introduced to tennis this year through the initiative, which saw $40,000 awarded to support the recipients’ efforts in increasing Hispanic youth participation in their programs.


Of those almost 2,000 children who attended a Hispanic outreach kick-off event this summer, nearly 1,000 went on to join a six-week program in their community.


USTA Player Development Coach Mentoring Program kicks off in 2018


A new D&I initiative kicked off in January 2018 with the introduction of the USTA Player Development Coach Mentoring Program (CMP), which was created to help achieve diversity in the coaching ranks by facilitating mentoring relationships between diverse, veteran USTA coaches and their less-experienced counterparts.


A major goal of the USTA is to diversify the game of tennis by recruiting and retaining more women, African-American and Hispanic players, and that goal is more likely to be reached if these underrepresented groups are welcomed into the tennis community by highly competent coaches from similar populations.


Over the last 12 months, the CMP participants have attended regularly scheduled one-on-one mentor-mentee mentoring sessions, as well as a group mentoring workshop, in which mentors and mentees meet with one another, receive information about the program and take part in education programming for coaches.


The 18-month program will continue through mid-2019.


ATA National Championships held at USTA National Campus


The USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., hosted the 101st edition of the ATA National Championships over the summer, marking the first time the prestigious event was held at the facility. It was also the first year of a partnership between the USTA and ATA that will allow the tournament to be held at the campus every three to four years.


The ATA, the oldest African-American sports organization in the country, was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1916, with a mission to promote black tennis in America. The organization’s founders established the first ATA National Championships in Baltimore a year later, which included just three events – men’s and women’s singles and men’s doubles. Today, the tournament has grown to include 30 competitive categories, with hundreds of competitors ranging from 10 to 80 years of age.


This year’s tournament, which took place from July 28-Aug. 4, crowned a total of 61 champions – 19 junior, 37 adult and an additional five in the open divisions.


Past ATA national champions include USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams, seven-time WTA singles champion Chanda Rubin, former Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison, French Open mixed doubles champion Leslie Allen and two of the sport's leading legends – Hall of Famers Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson.


USTA Foundation launches "Serve & Connect"


In February, the USTA Foundation launched "Serve & Connect," an initiative that partnered eight National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) chapters across the country with local law enforcement to build positive police-youth relationships through tennis.


“Serve & Connect” teamed local police officers with kids to learn and play tennis, providing an opportunity for the officers to engage in ongoing positive youth interaction and community tennis programming at their local NJTL chapter.


The program is designed to expose hundreds of children from the NJTLs to important life lessons, such as teamwork, communication, respect, healthy lifestyles and leadership, which can be used both on and off the court.


2018 USTA Foundation Opening Night Gala raises $1.6 million for under-resourced youth


The USTA Foundation raised more than $1.6 million at its 18th annual Opening Night Gala presented by ESPN at the US Open on Aug. 27.


The event, hosted by the legendary Billie Jean King and broadcaster Mike Greenberg, highlighted the foundation’s mission to fund tennis and education programming for more than 350 NJTL community programs across the country.


Click here to see video highlights from the event.


For information on the 2019 Opening Night Gala, including details on tickets, tables and sponsorships, call 914-696-7223 or email



For more American tennis highlights from 2018, be sure to check out our Year in Review page here.


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