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Southern Section Natives Grab Honors at Community Tennis Development Workshop

February 25, 2008 09:38 AM

The annual United States Tennis Association, Community Tennis Development Workshop was held over the weekend at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada and several USTA Southern program’s and individuals were recognized for their dedication to growing the game at an awards banquet.

NJTL of the Year
The USTA recognizes chapters and programs at three different budget levels to reward those facilities that are able to do more with less.

Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell, and Sheridan Snyder founded the NJTL in 1969. Ashe envisioned NJTL “as a way to gain and hold the attention of young people in the inner cities and their poor environments so that we can teach them about matters more important than tennis.” Since then, NJTL has grown to over 500 chapters serving over 200,000 youth each year, making it one of the USTA’s largest community-based offerings.

The 2007 USTA/NJTL Chapters of the Year and their corresponding budget levels are: The Dallas Tennis Association ($500k and over); NJTL of Trenton, Inc. ($50k-500k); and the Rising Stars of Kentucky (under $50k).

The NJTL honorees for 2007:

The Dallas Tennis Association – The Dallas Tennis Association is a non-profit volunteer-based community tennis organization serving more than 3,000 youngsters annually. For over 30 years its mission has been to promote tennis by providing education, programs and events for everyone to enjoy tennis as a lifetime sport. Under the direction of NJTL Leader Bert Cole, the DTA aims to improve the life of families within the community. Parents don’t simply drop off their kids; they often stay and work with them on the courts to help create a sense of ownership for the parents. The DTA also had success off the court this past summer when they partnered with the Scottish Rites Hospital and had terminally ill children rolled around the courts by their members. This sort of responsibility is also being taught in the classrooms. Students learn leadership skills, sportsmanship, giving back to the community, and being part of a team. The DTA can proudly boast that so far, 100% of the seniors graduating from its college-preparation program each year have all attended college.

NJTL of Trenton, Inc. – NJTL of Trenton, Inc. has faithfully served the City of Trenton and surrounding communities for more than 30 years, fulfilling their mission of “creating opportunities through education, nutrition and tennis.” NJTL’s programming includes 40 instructors, 20 different sites, and 1,200 youngsters. In 1990, the NJTL started the Tennis-and-Enrichment tennis instruction and tutoring program which has expanded to include strong academic support in pre-algebra, science, and technology. This past year they worked with Princeton University to use the school’s tennis facilities and help improve academic performance, reduce drop-out levels, promote exercise, and to create on-court instruction. The off-site locations offer a change in venue with additional mentoring and interaction with collegiate tennis players. Under the leadership of Executive Director Dan Faber, NJTL of Trenton works hard to develop community partnerships realizing that collaborative efforts bring many resources, common goals, and funding to the forefront to benefit the community.

Rising Stars of Kentucky – The focus of Rising Stars of Kentucky is to target at-risk youths in the Louisville area, as well as those in low to middle income families who cannot afford tennis lessons on a consistent basis. There are currently 65 registered students that meet weekly for 90-minutes of tennis and life skill coaching. With the help of Judge Joan “Toni” Stringer, Rising Stars offers a yearly program called Choices which helps youngsters understand the positive and negative consequences of lifestyles choices. Under the leaderships of Jack Barton, Rising Stars has seen students take seriously the values and commitment in the projects they support.

Community Tennis Association of the Year:

The USTA honors a registered CTA for outstanding services rendered in the community served and in the growth and development of the sport of tennis.

The CTA honoree for 2007:

The Florence Tennis Association, South Carolina

The Florence Tennis Association has achieved accomplishments typically reserved for much larger associations. While serving a population of nearly 40,000, the FTA has established a high school tennis tournament, launched an at-risk kids’ sports camp, worked with 50 local businesses to contribute to the game of tennis, and are on the verge of building a 30-court public tennis facility. Throughout the year, more than 400 FTA volunteers organize camps and clinics, a Recreational Coaches’ Workshop, an annual membership-drive cookout, Welcome Back to Tennis event, and a Tennis Block Party. In addition, the FTA has provided support for CTA's in the neighboring communities of Hartsville and Sumter by offering advice and assistance.

Eve Kraft Community Service Awards:

The USTA bestows the Eve Kraft Community Service Award upon individuals who perpetuate their selfless mission to bring the game of tennis to anyone who wants to play. Eve F. Kraft was a tennis pioneer whose ability to touch people’s lives exceeded the boundaries of the tennis court. As teacher, coach, author, USTA staff member and volunteer, Kraft was a lifelong champion of recreational tennis in the United States until her death in 1999. She introduced thousands of young people to the game of tennis, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

The Eve Kraft honorees for 2007:

Jaime Kaplan of Macon, GA - Kaplan is being recognized for her dedication to growing and supporting tennis in her community. After sustaining a career ending injury after playing professional doubles for six years, Jamie still wanted to be involved in the sport so put all her efforts back in to her community by writing a tennis column for The Macon Telegraph to increase community exposure to the sport. To maintain tennis’ momentum in Macon, she organized a “US Open Live” viewing party downtown in 2005. Last year 300 spectators attended. In 2006, she spearheaded the renovation of the local John Drew Smith Tennis Center by gathering substantial support from the City of Macon, Bibb County, the USTA, and local donors. Her efforts have brought thousands of people into the world of tennis and millions of dollars into the Macon economy. Her service isn’t limited to tennis, either. Kaplan has also worked closely with the Association of Retarded Citizens and the Macon Rescue Mission, a battered women’s and homeless men’s shelter.

Nancy Horowitz of Pembroke Pines, FL - Horowitz is being recognized for her dedication to tennis in her community. Nancy began in 1980 as a volunteer when she founded the Pembroke Pines Tennis Association, which served the city as a tennis advisory committee and spearheaded efforts to build four more tennis courts on the east side of town. Her commitment landed her a full-time position as a Parks and Recreation Tennis Coordinator. Now Horowitz’s responsibilities include staffing the city’s six public facilities, overseeing 12 tennis pros, purchasing equipment and more. She coordinates more than 50 courts across the area which gives tennis opportunity to over 1,000 people of all ages. She is also a recognized tennis official who has traveled to a number of events ranging from the Orange Bowl to the 1996 Olympics.

Sue Jollensten of Albuquerque, NM - Jollensten is being recognized for giving children all across New Mexico opportunities to play tennis at school. It began for Suzanne when her daughter’s school district declined offering a middle school tennis program. As a result Jollensten decided to take action and helped create the New Mexico Middle School Tennis League which began with six schools in 1996. Since its inception the program has seen over 640 registered players. She continues to work hard to ensure the availability of tennis programs for youth all over the state.

Bob Phelps of Carson City, NV - Phelps is being recognized for his selfless efforts in bringing tennis into an area that otherwise would have remained unexposed to the game. It all began when Phelps stumbled upon two derelict tennis courts near his home and saw an opportunity. With the help of a USTA Public Court Assistance Grant and local donors, Bob was able to repair the courts and build a youth tennis center for the nearby Boys & Girls Club. The 80-year-old tennis enthusiast and coach still volunteers five days a week and is driven to helping kids become better tennis players and better citizens. Phelps lively spirits and high energy motivate everyone involved with the Boys & Girls club.

Janet Louer USTA Jr. Team Tennis Organizer of the Year Award:

The USTA honors an individual that positively influences children’s lives and substantially impacts his or her community.

The award is named after Janet Louer, an individual who was instrumental in the development of junior tennis during her lifetime. As the administrator for USTA Jr. Team Tennis in Georgia, she built the state championships into the largest youth team tennis state championships in the nation. Her expertise also was utilized in the development of the Section and National Championships for the program. Louer died on May 2, 2006 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

The Janet Louer USTA Jr. Team Tennis Organizer of the Year honoree for 2007:

Rita Gladstone of Daytona Beach, FL - In 1977, Rita Gladstone began playing tennis in the sunshine state in what was then called Little Team Tennis. Nearly thirty years later Rita has become a leader in the program. Since becoming area league commissioner of the Volusia County USTA Team Tennis League, enrollment has nearly tripled from 60 to 200 players. Under her leadership, the league secured a long-term sponsor and established a team tennis committee comprising both teaching pros and parents.

Additionally, in the fall of 2004, Rita started a Rallyball league at a public park in Port Orange that grew to include 90 players ranging in age from 6 to 12. Tennis has always been a part of her life as her mother was a parent coach/volunteer when Rita first took to the courts. Rita would go onto play tennis at the University of South Carolina (1984-1988) and achieved her best WTA ranking, 352 in 1989. Gladstone’s husband, Andy is the Director of Competitive Tennis for USTA Florida. During their 16 years of marriage they have passed their love of the game onto their two children Paul and Mira, who are both Jr. Team Tennis players.

Adaptive Tennis National Community Service Award:

The USTA bestows the recognition upon a program or program leader that has demonstrated continued excellence, dedication and service in tennis for an adaptive tennis community.

The USTA Adaptive Tennis National Community Service Award was established in 2003 to recognize either an individual or a program that has demonstrated excellence, dedication, and service related to tennis for an Adaptive Tennis community. To qualify for a program award, the program must have been in existence for a minimum of three consecutive years and be either a registered USTA Adaptive Tennis program or have a USTA Adaptive Tennis affiliation. To qualify for an individual award, the recipient must have worked with an Adaptive Tennis program for a minimum of three consecutive years.

The Adaptive Tennis National Community Service honoree for 2007:

The Orthotic & Prosthetic Assistance Fund, Inc., (OPAF) located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, serves as the Official Philanthropy of the U.S. orthotic and prosthetic community. Established initially to provide financial and in-kind support for the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, OPAF now generates its own initiatives and programs through partnerships with those who work towards adaptive sports programs and activities that promote the benefits that individuals with physical challenges receive from physical activities, prosthetics and orthotics.

OPAF's First Volley™, adaptive tennis clinics for ambulatory players was founded in August 2005. First Volley™ was designed for amputees, orthosis wearers and those with physical challenges who wish to enjoy the game of tennis, but choose not to sit in a wheelchair to do so. The population takes great pride in the fact that they are ambulatory and do not wish to be labeled as handicapped. First Volley gives them tennis skills on their level, instructed by tennis professionals with years of experience in coaching amputees and those with physical challenges. First Volley allows ambulatory players the same consideration that wheelchair players have in that they are allowed a second bounce on their side of the net, should they need it. The goal on the tennis court is to take the "dis" out of "disability" and leave our participants the "ability" to participate in the game. The game of tennis gives them a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride and provides an area where they can fit in and return to an activity that may have thought lost to them.




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