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Special Olympics Tennis Grows 65% After USTA Florida Grants

Special Olympics_In ArticleLess than a year following grants from the USTA Florida Foundation, Special Olympics tennis participation has experienced a 65 percent participation increase across the state of Florida.

“Because of USTA Florida and the USTA Florida Foundation, we grew our tennis program by 65 percent last year to 451,” said Special Olympics Florida President & CEO Sherry Wheelock. “However, we know there are more athletes that could benefit from this incredible sport and we do have the capacity. We are so thankful for USTA Florida’s involvement and support.”

Following last spring’s announcement of a landmark three-way agreement with Special Olympics Florida, USTA Florida and the USTA Florida Foundation to provide more tennis play opportunities to athletes in Florida, grants awarded through January 2015 have totaled approximately $6,500 thus far for modified tennis equipment.

The Florida counties receiving grants were Duval, Hillsborough, Lake, Manatee, Okaloosa, Orange, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, and St. Lucie.

The formal agreement builds on existing support that USTA Florida and its charitable arm have provided to local Special Olympics programs by offering free 10 and Under Tennis workshops, grants, and other resources to providers that offer tennis programs to Special Olympics athletes.

“These athletes play tennis for the pure joy of the sport,” said USTA Florida Foundation Executive Director Linda Curtis. “It’s inspiring to see, and I’m proud to know that we will be able to provide even more opportunities for them to play through this partnership. We are absolutely committed to changing lives through tennis.”

To get a program started, Special Olympics coaches may apply for a USTA Florida Foundation equipment grant for adaptive tennis equipment and other program needs by contacting Kasia Castro at www.SpecialOlympicsFlorida.org.

For additional training opportunities and training resources, please contact Linda Curtis.