As I move into my second term on the USPTA National Board, it is so exciting to witness all the growth and changes the organization has experienced during my 50-plus years of being a member. However, I believe the next two years will be maybe the most important in our industry as we all strive to make our profession and our organization even bigger and better and more highly recognized and regarded than ever before.
It is an honor to be a small part of the development of the new education and certification pathway for players who wish to enter our profession at all levels – from Instructor all the way to Master Professional, should they so desire. USPTA members will graduate from this pathway with a complete understanding of their chosen profession and with tools that will help them both on and off the court.
For many years I chaired or served on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. D&I means that the USPTA aspires to have a diverse membership, but also one that embraces different cultures and communities. We have worked hard to encourage women to become part of the USPTA family. So many young women are now getting certified and progressing in their careers. Many of these women and men have fast-tracked to Head Professional and Tennis Director positions within five years of their joining the USPTA as newly certified professionals. This type of career movement has been greatly influenced by the availability and growth of PTM programs, better access to incredible online educational tools, streamlined testing and our mentoring programs. Plus, we have done a good job of marketing and promoting USPTA and tennis teaching as a wonderful career.
Our newest goal on D&I is to reach out to African American, Hispanic, Asian American, LGBTQ+, handicapped and other communities, because we understand that we can’t expect them to come to us. Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee will be proactive. This has already begun. Earlier this year, we reached out to people in these communities and gained important feedback that is helping us change our internal and external approach to making changes to be a more inclusive association.
We have also been working with the Female Coaches Network, an international multi-sport female coaching organization, as well as the Women’s Tennis Coaches Association, which concentrates on helping coaches understand how to teach tennis to young females around the world.
We established task forces to each develop a unique approach to growing the game of tennis in their community. Our team consists of 15 members, each with their own background, perspective and story. Our goal is to attempt to incorporate each group into our lineup of speakers at the World Conference in New Orleans this September. I was so proud of the speakers we had in Las Vegas, and we can’t wait to build on that in a few months.
However, we cannot ignore the effect the coronavirus has had on all our lives. At the time of this writing, it’s impossible to know how long this uncertainty will last. If you are able to continue working, please exercise necessary precautions to ensure your own safety and that of your students.
Even still, these are exciting times for the USPTA. We are working closely with the USTA to develop programs and regulations beneficial to both organizations. You have a strong, committed Board of Directors and a dedicated National Staff, all of whom are working for you.
We will continue to drive our evolution as an association, but to succeed, we all must take ownership of this goal. If we do, we will secure a bright future for the USPTA and the game of tennis.