Lake Mary Tennis Center Partners with USTA Florida Foundation to Revive Youth Summer Camp
Located in a residential section of Lake Mary, Fla., a turn onto Roland Garros Lane brings into sight the quaint city-run facility with seven clay courts that is bringing new junior players, many who have never picked up a racquet, into the game of tennis.
The Lake Mary Tennis Center, with grants from the USTA Florida Foundation and the City of Lake Mary, resumed their summer tennis camp after requests from local parents for a safe outdoor activity for children who had seen local athletic opportunities limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The summer camp resumed activity after a multi-year shutdown due to COVID.
“We had been receiving calls from community members looking for ways to get their children active, while also maintaining a safe environment,” said Chris Richter, Recreation Manager for the City of Lake Mary Parks and Recreation Department. “With limited options available, we started to talk with our tennis pro about what options we may have moving forward. Not only did he notice the same trend, but he also confirmed that several of his current clients have been asking him about summer camp options in our area as they are preparing for summer.”
Repeated phone calls from parents to the tennis center and city staffers confirmed the need for an affordable summer camp option. But a review of the city’s tennis supplies showed a need for new, and more, equipment for kids to keep the cost of the camp low.
Unaware of USTA Florida Foundation equipment grants, the facility received guidance from former USTA Florida Section president and long-time Lake Mary resident Bob Pfaender, who helped with a grant application that yielded more than 40 racquets and funding to support the camp.
“Bob has been the biggest help we have had to date,” said Richter. “With his knowledge of the game of tennis as well as his connections to the USTA, Bob guided us through the entire grant process as well as educated us on the grant itself. Without Bob we would not have known that USTA Florida grant cycle was open, and thankfully we had enough time to put together the grant.”
The campers, age 5-15 years old, ran the gamut from beginners who had never held a racquet to players who had been hitting balls for five or more years.
“I believe the most important thing we have learned is that people need to be educated on the game of tennis, and once we are able to get them onto the court, the toughest hurdle has basically been cleared,” Richter said. “We have seen a large up-tick in the number of new players who have never picked up a racquet before to becoming regulars within our programs. While many players do not get into tennis until they are older, it is something we hope we can continue to show our youth that tennis is a game for life.”
The camp also stressed character, promoting the three pillars of communication, teamwork, and responsibility, among other skills.
“These skills are important to develop at an early age as they often help create a successful individual down the road,” said Richter of the elementary- and middle school-aged participants. “We also know the importance of physical activity when creating a successful path to living a healthier lifestyle. We understand tennis is a game that you can play your entire life.”
In partnership with the USTA Florida Foundation, the Lake Mary Tennis Center Summer Camp is back creating new life-long players and providing an outlet for local children during the COVID pandemic uncertainty, according to Richter.
“We have been able to help our community not only heal from the pandemic, but we have also been able to provide a safe, fun environment where families, friends, and community members can visit for a sense of normalcy.”
About the USTA Florida Section Foundation
With a mission of “Changing Lives through Tennis,” the USTA Florida Section Foundation provides financial support to organizations that help people of all ages and abilities improve their health and quality of life through the great game of tennis. To learn more or to apply for a grant go to ustafloridafoundation.com.