The USTA has announced that it will celebrate 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. A special celebratory event, Court 10K, will be held on March 19 at the Tamiami Tennis Center in Miami to commemorate the milestone. The celebration will feature U.S. Fed Cup captain, Olympic gold medalist and Miami native, Mary Joe Fernandez. The host site, Tamiami Tennis Center, is emblematic of the 10,000 courts that have been installed throughout the country.
“We know that kids need 60 minutes of exercise a day to stay healthy and reach their full potential, so having access to fun opportunities to get moving could not be more important,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “The USTA has provided thousands of kids the chance to run and play, to learn a new game and perfect their skills, and to make new friends in a safe environment. I am incredibly proud of the USTA’s commitment to encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles and to opening new doors to explore a wonderful sport they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.”
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.
“Tennis is the perfect sport to get kids active and keep them healthy,” said Dave Haggerty, USTA Chairman, CEO and President. “The USTA’s Youth Tennis initiative was designed to make it easier and more fun to get involved in the game, and our commitment to creating and refurbishing youth-sized tennis courts across the country has been another step toward making the sport more accessible to more kids."
Through its facilities assistance arm, 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. In all, the USTA has constructed or refurbished 10,000 kid-sized courts since 2005. The courts were built in public parks, school yards, tennis facilities and at local community based youth organizations, like the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs.
“By providing infrastructure, the USTA’s efforts will help foster the game at the grass-roots level and get more kids active,” said Fernandez. “In addition, these efforts will help improve communities across the country and I am thrilled to be part of this momentous occasion.”
As part of this 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.
In total, the USTA through its facilities assistance program, has built more than 35,000 tennis courts across the country in the past six years, for all ages and abilities to enjoy the sport of a lifetime.