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Champions of Tennis - Macon Tennis Association named CTA of the Year by Tennis Industry Magazine

November 8, 2002 12:01 PM

When most people think about tennis in Georgia, it's Atlanta and its 80,000 enthusiastic players that come to mind. But not far from that active city, located in the heart of Georgia, may well be the state's "heart of tennis."

The city of Macon, with a population just shy of 100,000, has a surprisingly strong tennis base and offers some of the best and most varied programs in the country. It's also the home of the Macon Tennis Association (MTA), which is Tennis Industry Magazine’s Community Tennis Association (CTA) of the Year.

The MTA was one of the first CTA's in Georgia, founded in the early 1970s by John Drew Smith, Macon's first teaching pro, with help from a group of local tennis supporters. With a current USTA membership of about 2,000, the MTA has seen an impressive increase in player participation in all of its programs, including an amazing 280 percent increase over the past five years in USA Tennis NJTL.

“The Macon Tennis Association has developed into an outstanding CTA,” said John Callen, Executive Director of the USTA Southern Section. “It's past, present and future leadership has been outstanding. People like Randy Stephens, Mary Hatfield, Donna Bailey, Cheryl Long and all the others over the years have continued to strengthen the organization to its current position. Current and future players in Macon all stand to gain from the fine efforts of the MTA.”

"Having served as the tennis director for the City of Macon for 15 years and working closely with the Macon Tennis Association, I've seen firsthand the amazing work the MTA does year after year in growing the game," commented incoming MTA President Randy Stephens. "The MTA is a model Community Tennis Association."

With offices at the John Drew Smith Tennis Center, the MTA sanctions approximately 2,100 junior and 2,800 adult tournament participants every year and has hosted many junior and adult tournaments. The MTA also supports programs for every age group and ability level, offering programs like "Tennis for Tots" designed for kids ages 3 to 6, USA Team Tennis for Youth, USA Wheelchair Tennis and USA League Tennis for Adult, Senior and Mixed Doubles players.

In May, the association and the city's Parks and Recreation Department celebrated USA Tennis Month with "Macon a Racket," a tennis and music festival. Even though rain forced the festival onto indoor courts, it was a big hit, with more than 200 kids and parents participating.

The MTA also helped fund and coordinate a trip that sent four junior players and two chaperones to New York to attend the 2002 US Open. To bring tennis to even more kids, the MTA, with a matching grant from the Georgia Tennis Foundation, purchased the "Tennis In A Can" program to help tennis coaches teach the sport at five local public high schools. Additionally, the MTA provided equipment, balls and instruction assistance for the schools

“Through the coordinated efforts of many volunteers and the hard work of administrator Mary Hatfield and her staff, the MTA has successfully instituted and supported a variety of programs," says Cheryl Long, current MTA president. "While the knowledge that we have introduced the game to so many new players is gratifying on its own, I am very pleased to have our efforts recognized."

-- by Marc Kaplan

Tennis Industry Magazine
Tennis Industry Magazine
addresses the needs and concerns of professionals in all aspects of the tennis industry. From specialty retailers to teaching pros, to stringers to court builders, the focus of the magazine is the “business of tennis.” Entering its 30th year of production, the magazine prints six issues a year.




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