Reduced budgets, smaller, overworked staff and shortened hours of operation press Parks & Recreation Departments into exploring various methods to make ends meet. When it comes to tennis, though, developing relationships with local Community Tennis Associations can help a rec. department save money, increase programming, fill their tennis courts, and open the doors for grants and scholarships.
According to the USTA, 70 percent of all tennis is played on public-park courts. In addition, CTAs are charged with developing and promoting tennis at the grassroots level. When Parks and CTAs team up, the entire community benefits.
Here are some more specific reasons Parks Departments should to get together with CTAs:
Advocacy: Tennis courts and facilities need improvements, upgrades, refurbishing and equipment replacement. Asking elected officials for large sums of money can prove daunting. No one sings the praises of the game louder than tennis players themselves. CTA members can grab the ears of city council and other community members for yes votes when allocating funds for tennis.
Networking: Not only do tennis players form close-knit relationships, they represent the pulse of many communities. CTAs, with a quick email blast, can spread whatever word tops your current agenda.
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Volunteers: CTA members are passionate about their sport and jump at the opportunity to help out. Volunteers enjoy manning a tournament desk for 12 hours regardless of weather conditions. For municipalities, the CTA dedication to volunteerism helps out an overworked Parks Department staff.
Programming and Events: Nationwide, CTAs are paramount to successful tennis programming. As USTA members, they coordinate, run, and organize leagues, tournaments, round robins, 10 and Under Tennis, classes for Special Olympics and wheelchair players. They can provide tennis for kids as young as 3 to seniors in their 90s.
Stay Current with a National Tie-In: With a CTA on board, your programming will stay current with USTA national trends and initiatives, such as the Veterans Day Play Days. "The USTA's commitment to support our parks deliver tennis is unwavering," says David Slade, the USTA's National Manager for CTAs and Tennis in the Parks.
Scholarships to Conferences and Workshops: Your staff can qualify for USTA conference and workshop scholarships like, Recreational Coach Workshops, Recreational QuickStart Tennis Workshops, and the USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop.
Grants, Awards and Facility Assistance: CTAs mean money. "Registered CTAs have access to resources from the USTA's national, section and district offices," says Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. "Partnering with a CTA can open up some important grant and scholarship opportunities for park & rec. agencies."
Teaming up with CTAs gives Parks tennis facilities eligibility to fund projects for equipment, resurfacing, 36- and 60-foot blended lines, major center improvements, fencing, and blueprints for new tennis centers. In addition, a CTA hook-up means free marketing materials, and program resources.
Economic Impact: With successful programming your entire community stands to benefit. After matches and lessons, players eat at local restaurants, shop at nearby stores, and, if you've organized a weekend tennis event, may book hotel rooms in your area. In other words, a thriving tennis calendar brings an economic impact your entire city will appreciate.
Community: More than money, CTAs care about their neighborhoods. In New Haven Conn., for instance, the Parks Department and New Haven Youth Tennis & Education paired up to help kids on and off the tennis courts. "This program is successful because it is a true community partnership between the parks, the schools, the CTA and the New Haven Open at Yale (a professional tournament)," says NHYTE Executive Director John Pirtel. Through the partnership, kids not only learn and play tennis and benefit from a healthy, lifetime sport, but also they develop key education and life skills.
Remember, both Parks agencies and CTAs have rules and regulations they must abide by. Communication is a key factor in obtaining a successful partnership. In the words of Scott Hanover, Tennis Director for Plaza Tennis Center, a park & rec facility in Kansas City, Mo.: "Parks plus CTAs equal tennis for everyone."