By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- From 10 and Under Tennis to adult players to parents who want to take a more active role in their child's personal development, the Community Tennis Development Workshop (CTDW) each year serves as the meeting of the most tireless minds from all 17 USTA sections and the national level to discuss the future of tennis in the United States.
As part of USTA.com's coverage of the 2011 CTDW in Washington D.C., we're going around the workshops to discover which new ideas, initiatives and practices are pushing people towards the ultimate goal: To promote and develop the game at all levels.
Along the way, we'll meet the impassioned speakers delivering the presentations and come to know what drives their efforts.
- China Fanning, NJTL Education Manager
Why she's speaking:
The USTA/National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network identifies tennis, education and life skills as three core components to running a successful community tennis organization. A commitment to maintaining and developing organizational resources at the national level for affiliated chapters to use to better themselves is of prime importance.
With that in mind, Fanning's workshop, "New NJTL Offerings," reveals a revamped Arthur Ashe Essay and Art Contest (AAEAC), where a record 14 national winners will win a trip to the 2011 US Open. The AAEAC will effectively become a "year-round contest," according to Fanning, "that will allow NJTL chapters to use the contest as an educational tool in developing writing and study skills, rather than having to rush to meet a deadline." Going forward, the contest from start to finish will take place over the course of 11 months.
Also, NJTL-sponsored Tennis Leadership Camps will offer the opportunity for 40 select children in 2011 an all-expenses paid trip to Sonoma, Calif., from July 18-24, to learn team-building and take part in multicultural activities based around tennis.
Feature Idea: Money in the Bank
Fanning is excited to reveal to the room that in the past few years, the USTA has been purchasing assets related to the National Student Athlete Competition (NSAC) and the First Serve Life Skills Curriculum.
The acquisition presents NJTL chapters with the exclusive ability to deliver a professionally researched and developed off-court life skills curriculum to complement a chapter’s already existing on-court programming. The NSAC gives NJTL students the ability to compete for college scholarships based on grades in four subject areas and USTA sanctioned tennis activity. Scholarships are divided equally between four age/gender categories and are awarded to 12 total students each year.
Simply put, the NSAC ties education to tennis from as early as elementary school and allows for past winners to remain eligible to compete for college scholarship money each year until their senior year of high school.
"You have a fifth grader who can win $5,000 for just participating in tournaments," said Fanning. "These aren't necessarily your best tennis players or even your best students, but they are the kids from underserved communities who stick with the game year-round. They're playing Jr. Team Tennis, 10 and Under Tennis, and they're turning every report card in to their tennis coaches.
"We then are able to document that data, and the NJTL chapters consequently gain leverage to get funding for their community. It's entirely feasible that some really dedicated kids who might never have otherwise had the means to attend college could have between $10,000 and $15,000 saved away before even applying to college."
First Serve Life Skills, meanwhile, is a tri-level educational program that has been implemented by chapters over the past year that combines the classroom element of NJTL programming and applies it to on-court learning -- lessons designed to teach skills, such as public speaking and balancing a healthy diet, within tennis activity.
How to Improve: "Keep It Free"
"Whether the offering is brand new or enhanced, all of it is free," said Fanning. "As the scope and depth of our support programming grows -- we either give the support directly to the participants or give access to it through chapter leaders -- it's all added value for them. We just want to do everything we can to let them know about it so they can take advantage."