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Presidents Letter December 2020

December 2020 President’s Letter

 

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to review some of the bright spots for Kentucky tennis in the year of the pandemic. 

At the onset of the pandemic in March, tennis clubs and public tennis courts across the state were closed.  Thankfully, they reopened later in the spring as government officials realized that tennis is one of the safest sports to play due to being socially distant.   However, during the closure, USTA KY and the Raise A Racquet Foundation partnered on “Tennis Starts with Love’ to provide much needed financial support to our tennis professionals and officials. 

Our leagues and tournaments resumed play in the summer and Kentucky was only one of three Southern Section states to have state championships which were moved to the fall. Player attendance was down only 12% for the Combo Championships and remarkably, the 18 and over Championships saw a 2% increase in participation. 

The Kentucky Facilities database project has been completed and will provide us with valuable information to assist communities with programming and grants.  The Kentucky Tennis Summit was started this year and tennis stakeholders from all areas of tennis met with USTA KY Board members and staff to brainstorm ideas for growing tennis in Kentucky.  These ideas will be converted into action items for 2021. 

Our highest-level professional women’s tournament ever occurred as a result of the pandemic.  The Top Seed Open attracted the very best women players in the world to Nicholasville in August. 

The Warren County Parks and Recreation department broke ground on an $8.2 million-dollar tennis facility with 6 indoor and 6 outdoor courts in late September. The Southern Kentucky Tennis Association worked closely with the Warren County Parks and Recreation department for several years on the project and the facility is scheduled to open in the summer of 2021. 

The Drop Shots social league saw growth in participation in Louisville during the fall.  The JTT State Championships were delayed to the fall and saw good support.  The local JTT Program in Ashland headed by Julie Qualls had 14 teams and 99 junior competing on Sundays for 14 weeks.

The USTA Southern Tennis Annual Awards were recently announced and Kentucky received two of the awards.  Please join me in congratulating Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award winner Charles Crawford of Louisville and the NJTL Chapter of the Year winner Rising Stars of Kentucky Tennis from Louisville! As I reported last month, Susan Sloane was selected for induction into USTA Southern Tennis Hall of Fame in early 2021. 

Who would have ever imagined wearing a mask to play tennis?  Despite the mask mandate for indoor play, tennis has been thriving at our clubs the last few weeks.  Tennis continues to provide a great workout and socialization from a distance.  Tennis has been a great stress reliever during a time of unprecedented stress for most of us.

There have been several silver linings for Kentucky tennis this year, but I believe the best one has been the influx of new players on our public courts and at our clubs trying out tennis for the first time. We hope to continue this trend into the new year and beyond. 

Please keep Taylor Urquhart, USTA KY Manager, Operations and Program Development and USTA KY Board member Teri Christensen in your thoughts and prayers on the passing of Taylor’s father (Tribute) and major surgery for Teri.

I wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season as we look forward to a new year and hopefully the end of the pandemic. 

At your service,

Mike Eden

USTA Kentucky Board President

 

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