Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Pack Your Tennis Courts with Players and Programs: Parks Departments Can Team Up with Community Tennis Associations to Fill Their Tennis Courts

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Pack Your Tennis Courts with Players and Programs: Parks Departments Can Team Up with Community Tennis Associations to Fill Their Tennis Courts

Article excerpt

THE UNPLEASANT FACT of shrinking budgets reduced and overworked staff, and condensed hours of operation force park and recreation departments to seek alternative methods of preserving current quality-of-service levels to its residents. Alliances with like-minded organizations could fill in the blanks when looking for creative ways to maintain programming that best serves your community.

Tennis players are fanatics with a deep sense of community accompanied by a strong desire to share their passion for the game with others. As a result, they often form community tennis associations (CTAs) to execute these goals. A surefire way for you to increase tennis programming, participation, leagues, tournaments, and even advocacy is through your local CTA.

CTAs are nonprofit organizations filled with volunteers who thrive on increasing participation and promotion. As an organizational member of the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), their "can do" list is endless. CTAs coordinate leagues, organize 10 and Under Tennis for kids, host and run tournaments, introduce tennis into schools, arrange clinics and round robins, and more.

What's so important about a booming tennis operation? When a park and recreation department runs successful tennis programs, the community benefits in ways that go well outside the lines of the court. For instance, after matches and lessons, tennis players eat at local restaurants, shop at nearby stores, and, if you've organized a weekend tennis event, may book hotel rooms in your area. In other words, a thriving tennis calendar brings an economic impact your entire city will appreciate.

It's not just about the programming. CTAs mean money. "Registered CTAs have access to resources from the USTA's national, section, and district offices," says Kurt Kamperman, chief executive, Community Tennis, USTA. "Partnering with a CTA can open up some important grant and scholarship opportunities for park and rec agencies."

Furthermore, teaming up with CTAs means you aren't restricted to the slower-moving wheels of government. A CTA can write a check almost immediately, meaning you can replace a net damaged by unforeseen high winds or vandalism, etc.

What do parks give CTAs? The tennis courts! Park departments ensure air-conditioned/heated facilities equipped with locker rooms and restrooms. Park tennis centers keep the landscaping trimmed, the drink machines filled, the courts cleaned and resurfaced, and the nets secure while providing a safe, family-friendly environment. Also, more than 70 percent of all tennis happens on public courts. David Slade, national manager for the USTA, says, "The USTA's commitment to support our parks that deliver tennis is unwavering."

Successful partnerships have paid off nicely for both the Bucks County Tennis Association (BCTA) and the local parks agencies in the BCTA's eastern Pennsylvania region--and the winners are the area's residents. The BCTA runs programs, leagues, etc., for adults and kids, working with 13 park and recreation departments and other entities. "We've found a niche on our public park courts," says BCTA President Barbara Long. "We started in 2005 with 55 participants. Now we have over 1,300 [and that doesn't include] an additional 1,323 in PE tennis 'play days.'"

The positive effects of tennis advocacy played a role in 2011 when the City of Macon, Georgia, held an election for a one-cent increase in the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). …

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