Tennis is bigger and better than ever in Texas, thanks to the award-winning Arlington Tennis Center. ATC is a premier public facility located in Arlington–just a stone’s throw from both Dallas and Fort Worth. With 20 outdoor lighted courts, a full-service pro shop and experienced staff, ATC leads the way in Texas tennis.
Owned and operated by the City of Arlington Parks and Recreation Department, ATC opened in 1995 with 12 lighted outdoor courts, a 3,000-square-foot pro shop, locker rooms and a covered patio with a natural stadium. In 2002, a grand circular drive, additional parking and eight more courts were added.
Shortly after ATC opened, it became a benchmark for other facilities as both a construction and operating model. ATC also partnered with the local Arlington Tennis Association, to increase “tennis awareness” in the community. One of the most successful results from the partnership was a player development program for local high school students. The 16-week class saw almost two dozen players attend twice-weekly practice and drill sessions. Plans are in the works to repeat the program in summer 2008.
For Arlington Tennis Center, the grassroots foundation in classes, lessons, leagues, drills and camps is a key for growing tennis. In 2007, over 3,000 players participated in classes and private lessons, with more than 400 new tennis players walking through the doors. Overall programs increased by nearly 13 percent. Nationally, tennis has the fastest-growing participation of any major sport since 2000. More than 25 million Americans are playing tennis, which has led to the best four consecutive years of industry sales since the 1970s. In addition, United States Tennis Association (USTA) membership exceeds 720,000–an all-time high.
Something For Everyone
ATC offers junior players year-round classes, lessons and league play, plus drills and specialized camps for beginner, intermediate and advanced players. The QuickStart program for new players ages 4 to10 is a USTA initiative that introduces live-ball action for beginners. QuickStart incorporates “right-sized” courts, racquets and balls suitable for the age of the players, and aids in teaching fundamentals in a successful new format.
Another option for beginning junior players is the Tennis in the Parks program that ATC first offered in 2007. The TiP classes for ages 7 to10 are taught at local recreation centers, and are a partnership between the USTA and the National Recreation and Park Association to literally bring tennis to the parks. TiP utilizes QuickStart to get the kids playing fast before moving on to intermediate and advanced classes.
ATC also takes special pride in Junior Team Tennis. JTT was a long-standing tradition with Arlington Tennis Center that was revived in 2007. ATC teaching professionals volunteer their time off the court to organize the teams and drill the players on Sunday mornings before their matches. The pros even buy the kids lunch and drive them to away competitions. The results have paid off. Everyone has had an opportunity to play and be part of the team. Wearing their T-shirts, “Team Arlington–We’re On Fire!”, virtually 100 percent attendance was seen each week, whether the players were scheduled to play or not.
For adults, Arlington Tennis Center offers classes, drills and cardio tennis for players ages 17 and up. ATC also has a variety of recreational leagues and a weekly drill-league that is designed for adult players who want some instruction with their league play. Adult drills are for all levels of competitive players, and cardio tennis drills are the best means to get a heart-pumping workout using tennis skills.
A Competitive Edge
In addition to the adult classes, drills and recreational leagues, ATC is home to nearly 70 USTA and local circuit teams each year. Two Arlington Tennis Center adult USTA teams won Section Championships in 2007, and competed in the USTA League National Championships in the fall: USTA League Senior 3.0 Ladies, Chix with Stix and USTA League Mixed 8.0, Team Stetzer.
ATC’s success in programming may be surpassed only by its reputation for special events and tournaments. More than 2,300 people participated in ATC-hosted tournaments in 2007. In addition, ATC was the site for over 40 other events last year, with more tournaments and events to be added in 2008. One of the tournaments hosted by ATC is a USTA National Open Championship for the top girls ages 14 and under. The tournament brings players from around the United States to Arlington for five days of fierce competition and a spot at the USTA National Clay Court Championships. Another tournament to be held in fall of 2008 is the USTA Men’s Intersectional Team Event, which will draw players from across the country, as well as from British Columbia and Canada, for seven days of team competition in five different men’s divisions.
The substantial number of tournaments and events ATC brings to the area has a tremendous positive impact on the surrounding community as well. Local restaurants, recreation spots (including ice skating, bowling, golf and rock-climbing venues), hotels, malls, theaters and even gasoline stations/ convenience stores see a huge jump in business every time Arlington Tennis Center hosts an event.
One Happy Bunch
The heart of ATC’s success is the staff, TEAM ATC. It is the primary ingredient in every aspect of the programs and services. ATC’s teaching professionals include five certified staff, with two rated as Professional-1–the top level next to master professional in the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). The customer service staff is composed of dedicated service representatives who operate more like a family than co-workers. As one staff member said, “Working at ATC reminds me of playing tennis with my family when I was a kid. I love it.”
Arlington Tennis Center’s dedication to growing tennis has not gone unnoticed. ATC received more than a dozen local, statewide and national awards in the 12 years of operation between its opening in 1995 and 2007. In community service, programming and special events, Arlington Tennis Center is Texas tennis at its best–a Lone Star Original.