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President's Letter February 2021

February 2021 President’s Letter

 

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm during the double whammy of Covid-19 and winter storms.  Despite the current gloomy weather, I am excited about sunnier days ahead for Kentucky tennis in 2021.  At our recent USTA Kentucky Annual Meeting which was held virtually for the first and hopefully last time, I presented my vision for 2021 which I would like to share with you along with updates on other areas of interest this month.

The statistics for new and returning players in the 3rd quarter of 2020 are incredible.  According to the Tennis Industry Association, total racquet shipments were up 43% and youth racquet shipments were up 40% compared to the same quarter in 2019.  Total racquet sales year over year were up 22% and youth racquets sales were up 27%.

The Physical Activity Council reported that of the more than 21 million Americans saying they played tennis last year, 6.78 million were either new or returning/lapsed players. Nearly 3 million of those were first-time players, a 44% increase over new players in 2019. Additionally, the 3.82 million Americans who returned to the sport after time away was a 40% increase over the same measure in 2019.  Click here to read more.

We don’t know how many new and returning players are in Kentucky, but anecdotal reports show significantly more play at our tennis clubs and parks throughout the state.  This leads to the following questions.  Where do we find the new and returning players?  How do we welcome and provide programming for them? How do we reach out and increase our diverse players?

It is estimated that 70% of play occurs at parks so it is logical to target our efforts here.  Last year, the Kentucky Facilities Database project was completed and provides us great information on the location, condition and programming available at parks in Kentucky.  There will be an ad hoc committee of the Board charged with analyzing the data from the project and coming up with action items.  The ad hoc committee will work closely with the new Parks and Recreation subcommittee of the Community Development committee.  Rainey Johns has agreed to chair this committee.  Rainey is uniquely suited for this role as she is the Director of Versailles-Woodford County Parks and Recreation Department and is a member of the USTA Southern Task Force on Parks and the USTA National Parks and Recreation Committee. We have invited Cee Jai Jones, USTA Southern Director of Diversity and Inclusion, to present to our Board and staff.  Meg Peavy is chair of our D & I Committee and we are looking for new and innovative ideas from the committee and from Cee Jai to be more intentional and effective in our efforts to follow the lead of USTA National to “attract, engage and retain diverse tennis participants”. 

Since we couldn’t have our Annual USTA Kentucky Awards presentation this year, we traveled to locations around the state to present the awards.  Congrats to all of the award recipients!  Click here to learn more about our award winners. 

To celebrate Black History Month, we have been highlighting the achievements of black tennis players in Kentucky through our social media outlets.  The International Tennis Hall of Fame is doing a virtual speaker series on “Althea Gibson and the History of Tennis”.  The ITHF also has a digital museum exhibit titled, “Breaking The Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers”.  Click here for more information.  

I hope you will consider joining tennis players throughout the Southern Section participating in the Run for Racquets on the weekend of February 26-28.  Proceeds from the virtual 5K will support the Southern Tennis Foundation and our own Raise A Racquet Foundation and for every registration, a tennis racquet will be given to your local community tennis association. Click here to register.

 

The year 2021 looks brighter for Kentucky tennis.  Please join USTA Kentucky staff and volunteers in our goal of “attracting, engaging and retaining diverse tennis participants”.  We need everyone to help promote our beloved sport to the new and returning players this year.

 

At your service,

 

Mike Eden

USTA President

 

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