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USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop
by Mary Helen Sprecher

The USTA's Community Tennis Development Workshop, or CDTW, is a meeting of those who work to grow the game of tennis on the grassroots level. Participants include representatives of community tennis associations, rec and parks departments and more. This year's meeting was held in Crystal City, Virginia.

USTA staff in attendance at the CDTW includes those who work with these people, and those who work with various programs that grow tennis in communities. Examples include USTA officials who direct Tennis On Campus, Tennis Service Representatives, those who work with the QuickStart Tennis Format and more. USTA Section staff members are also out in force.

Attending this meeting provides an excellent way to understand concerns of the actual public tennis-playing community. For example, there was good attendance to learn about the USTA's resources for facilities; the USTA sponsors a grant program, provides expert advice and guidance and more to those who are seeking to build or upgrade their current facility. National Facility Consultant David LaSota spoke to a standing room only crowd, discussing various types of design and construction (good and bad), and the importance of both to a workable, successful facility at any budget.

Tennis facilities in general are a big concern for this group; one concern that was voiced repeatedly was the old Catch-22: it's hard to grow the game if facilities aren't kept up-to-date and safe, and it's hard to get a municipality to invest the money to fix the facilities if they don't see the game growing. (This provided an excellent opportunity for me to tell a few people about ASBA, and about its publications, including the Tennis Courts book).

Other very popular programs included how-to sessions on bringing tennis into public schools as part of the P.E. curriculum or after-school recreational offerings, and sessions on social media and how to use it to expand the popularity of tennis.

The overall theme of this year's conference was the USTA's 10 and Under Tennis, particularly important in light of the rule change that will take effect on January 1, 2012. USTA is encouraging all its community partners to get on board with the QuickStart Tennis Format, and to avail themselves of USTA's resources to make it work, and to grow the game from the ground up. It was noted that the QST Format can be used to create courts at events like street fairs, festivals, field days and even near the tailgate area at professional sporting events like MLB or NFL games.

The CDTW offers a mini-trade show as well as receptions and other gatherings. Its awards dinner honors those who have worked to bring tennis to their communities. Honors include the NJTLs of the Year, the Janet Louer USTA Junior Team Tennis National Organizer of the Year Award, the Adaptive Tennis Community Service Award, Community Tennis Association of the Year Award and the Eve Kraft Community Service Awards.

Members of the Tennis Division who want to learn more about delivering tennis on a community level, and connecting to the people who do, might want to make a note of next year's CDTW. Information will be posted on the USTA's website at www.usta.com as soon as details become available..   


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