Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Usta and Nrpa: A Logical Partnership

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Usta and Nrpa: A Logical Partnership

Article excerpt

At the NRPA Board of Trustees meeting held May 3, 2000, in Newport, Rhode Island, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) graciously sponsored a dinner reception at which USTA President Julia "Judy" Levering addressed a group of approximately 150 Trustees and guests.

Levering, the first woman to head the 119. year-old tennis organization and the first woman to serve on The Grand Slam Committee, was named one of the most powerful women in sports. Nicknamed "the Velvet Hammer" by her colleagues for her gentle, but effective, powers of persuasion, she oversees all aspects of tennis in the United States from the community level to the championship match at the U.S. Open.

Levering is an advocate of community tennis, helping to design a series of youth tournaments and instill a love of the game in new participants to the sport. Her keynote address, a heartfelt tribute to the game of tennis and a warm "thank you" to organizations like NRPA whose mission is to preserve and bolster community parks and recreation programming, moved the audience and inspired recreation professionals to continue their good works. Excerpts of this speech follow.

It is a real pleasure for the USTA to be represented at your Board of Trustees dinner at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. It is a particular pleasure for me personally. I grew up in Kansas City, which had a developer in the '20s who was years ahead of the times. In his development of what was the first suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, he is probably best known for the Plaza, which is one of the most attractive shopping and business areas in the United States. But I think his real legacy was his placement of small parks throughout the residential areas. Some were only big enough for a piece of statuary, a bench, and some green grass. The largest was hundreds of acres.

I grew up in a home facing one of these parks that was the size of a city block. It had a small pool, swings, monkey bars, a barrel, huge sandbox, beautiful trees (Arbor Villa) and, oh yes, one tennis court.

My brother and I, along with all of the other neighborhood children, lived in that park when we were not in school. When I think of my early childhood, I think of that park. We learned how to master the gymnastic equipment, how to catch and throw balls, how to play games such as hide-and-go-seek and kick the can, and how to hit a tennis ball. We developed a sense of independence. We always felt safe and our parents always knew where we were. I wish every child could have what I had. I know that is what you are trying to provide, and I admire your mission.

In a more specific way, the USTA has a mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis because we know what it has to offer people: the good feeling of mastering a skill, improved physical fitness, a challenge to the mind, and, as a result, an overall feeling of well-being. For young people, it teaches lessons for life, such as honesty in calling your own lines, showing respect for your opponent by shaking hands at the net, the rewards that come from hard work, an acceptable way to be aggressive, experiencing glory when winning, and accepting defeat without anyone else to blame.

It just makes sense that the USTA and NRPA are partners. All of what we offer is inexpensive and inclusive, and we offer a lot.

I remember well when Bill Clothier came to me when I was chair of our Community Development Committee and gave me the opportunity to have a USTA Award given to a parks and recreation agency for excellence in tennis. …

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