The United States Tennis Association (USTA) along with the Miami Parks and Recreation Department and the USTA Florida celebrated the refurbishment and creation of 10,000 youth-sized tennis courts in the United States as part of USTA’s commitment to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
The event, Court 10K, occurred at the Tamiami Tennis Center, the largest facility with permanent youth-sized courts in the country.
“Tamiami Park represents what all tennis facilities should look like in the future, with courts for all age groups including 36-, 60-, and 78-foot courts,” said USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth.
“These age appropriate courts make the game of tennis more fun and easier to learn not only for 10 and under children, but also for adult players learning to play, as they age, or have injuries. We hope to help other facilities in Florida copy Tamiami Park in the future with grant money to help fund the projects.”
Mary Joe Fernandez, U.S. Fed Cup captain, Olympic gold medalist and Miami native, joined in the celebration.
“This is very special for me because this is my hometown,” Fernandez said. “To be able to celebrate with all of you this great achievement to have this park be the one with the 10,000th court for youth tennis is pretty remarkable. It’s fantastic, not only you are getting great exercise, but with the less pressurized balls and smaller courts you have success quicker and you want to come back and play more.”
The event recognized the efforts of USTA Florida to promote tennis in the community and to expand the participation of individuals of all ages in its different programs using the right equipment based on size and ability.
As part of this nation-wide initiative, all courts that were built or renovated were specially lined to enable participation in the USTA’s youth participation initiative, 10 and Under Tennis.
Youth tennis is geared toward getting more kids to participate in tennis using modified equipment and courts tailored to a child’s age and ability. By featuring shorter and lighter racquets, slower-bouncing balls, smaller courts and simplified scoring, children learn to play more quickly and easily while having more fun in the process. For the past two years, the USTA has invested significantly in 10 and Under Tennis, and the initiative is the organization’s number one recreational tennis initiative.
The USTA teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative in 2011 to encourage young people across the country to get active, play tennis and lead healthy lifestyles.
In addition, a component of the collaboration with Let’s Move! was the commitment to encourage children to participate in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), in which more than 226,000 kids participated and completed the challenge through the USTA. To date, the USTA has had more kids complete the challenge than any other youth sports organization in the United States.
The USTA has constructed or refurbished 10,000 kid-sized courts since 2005 in public parks, school yards, tennis facilities and at local community-based youth organizations, like the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs.
The USTA has succeeded in the construction and renovation of more than 4,500 youth-sized tennis courts in 371 markets in 44 states throughout the nation in 2012.