Partnering To Fill Tennis Courts

As budgets tighten and employees are either let go or work fewer hours, parks and recreation departments find themselves trying to provide important community services with scarce resources. One way an agency can continue to maintain its level of service is through partnerships with other community-minded organizations.

And when it comes to tennis, there is an easy way to partner and keep the courts filled with players of all ages. It’s time to join up with a local Community Tennis Association, or CTA.

Defining CTAs

CTAs are all about tennis—non-profits with volunteers who are passionate about the sport and work at getting more people to play.

The number-one rule in creating partnerships is to make sure both parties have similar visions and missions.  Photos courtesy of Jacksonville Youth Tennis Association

The number-one rule in creating partnerships is to make sure both parties have similar visions and missions.

Photos courtesy of Jacksonville Youth Tennis Association

As an organizational member of the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), CTAs can provide many benefits, including establishing leagues, delivering 10 and Under Tennis for kids, running tournaments, helping to bring tennis into schools, and presenting clinics and round-robins. When it comes to tennis, the local CTA knows how to serve—and deliver.

Why is a booming tennis operation so important? When a parks and rec department runs successful tennis programs, the community benefits in ways that go well outside the lines of the court. For instance, after matches and lessons, tennis players eat at local restaurants, shop at nearby stores, and—if they attend a weekend tennis event—may book hotel rooms in the area. In other words, a thriving tennis calendar brings an economic impact the entire city will appreciate.

Two Groups, One Vision

The number-one rule in creating partnerships is to make sure both parties have similar visions and missions. CTAs want to increase tennis in their communities; your organization should be on board with that, too. Another important component to a successful partnership is ensuring both parties feel they benefit equally in the “profits.”

For example, in 2007, the Macon (Ga.) Parks and Recreation Department teamed up with the Macon Tennis Association and the

A successful tennis program produces benefits for the community to go beyond the lines of a tennis court.

A successful tennis program produces benefits for the community to go beyond the lines of a tennis court.

USTA for a $700,000 renovation of two tennis facilities—36 courts in all. The result meant the Macon Tennis Association would continue to be awarded tournament bids, and the city would realize millions of dollars in economic impact.

“With approximately 20 tournaments held at our two tennis centers, the convention and visitors bureau estimates 10,000 visitors and an economic impact of more than $2.7 million annually,” Larry Fortson, formerly with the Macon Parks and Recreation Department, said at the time.

But not every park and rec-CTA partnership is designed to draw large tournaments to the community. Another successful model is the partnership between the New Haven (Conn.) Park & Recreation Department and New Haven Youth Tennis & Education (NHYTE).

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