USTA Helps Communities Boost Tennis Participation
By Emily Tipping
Via facilities grants and other assistance, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) has been helping communities provide more opportunities for learning and enjoying the sport of tennis since 2005. From concept plans and professional construction document review to grants for a wide range of construction and facility improvement projects, the association partners with communities to grow the sport.
"It started in 2005 as the Adopt-a-Court program, and over the years has changed into the Facility Assistance Program," said Maiysha Warren, USTA national manager, Tennis Facilities & Development. "It began with the priority being to help develop and grow tennis in the community."
The program has always provided opportunities to get free technical assistance, Warren explained. "So at no charge, they can get design expertise. We'll help develop concept plans. We will review any bid documents that may have received," she said. "That's all free of charge, and they're getting top engineers in the country familiar with tennis court construction and maintenance. Also, because this assistance is coming from the national governing body, it gives them credibility when they're going to local stakeholders to convince them the facility needs to be built or fixed."
Since 2005, more than $11 million in facilities grants have been awarded to build or refurbish more than 38,000 courts. In 2014 alone, the USTA allocated more than $900,000 through the Facility Assistance Program to help support public tennis facility enhancements, renovations and new construction projects.
"We get about 10 to 16 inquiries per week at this point from people looking to USTA for information or technical assistance, and some of them may be looking for financial assistance as well," Warren said.
Once someone has contacted the USTA for assistance, the organization takes them through a rigorous technical review. They ensure the project meets industry standards and guidelines, and also that it meets the needs of the community the facility will serve.
"Once we agree that what they are doing makes sense for their community, we offer them an opportunity to apply for funding," Warren said, "and when they do, they are eligible for up to $20,000," depending on the scope of the work.
Warren said projects have been wide-ranging—everything from the installation of shade structures and lighting upgrades to resurfacing or creating large numbers of brand-new courts.
One big focus of the association, Warren added, is the development of 36-foot and 60-foot courts. In 2014, the USTA invested more than $500,000 to help communities create more than 2,700 of these courts.
"This can be accomplished by building or painting the lines on already-standing tennis courts," Warren said. "They help new players of all ages develop their game, and the smaller court dimension is easier for learning and easier for seniors."
For those who'd like to learn more about promoting the sport of tennis and improving their own tennis facilities, the USTA Facility Assistance Program can be found by visiting www.usta.com/facilities.