Viera Elementary Debuts Tennis Club After Grant from USTA Florida Foundation
One of the newest elementary schools on Florida’s Space Coast, east of Orlando, became one of the training grounds for junior tennis — very-junior tennis — when students in grades K-6 picked up racquets to participate in the Viera Elementary Tennis Club following an equipment grant from the USTA Florida Foundation.
The giving arm of the United States Tennis Association-Florida Section, the USTA Florida Foundation grants tennis equipment throughout the state of Florida for schools and non-profit tennis organizations that support kids’ tennis.
“Tennis is a big-time sport in Viera,” said tennis club organizer Sarah Dingus, a Viera elementary physical education (PE) teacher. “Most of my older students play tennis or at least have a huge interest in learning about the sport. We have a lot of tennis courts in the surrounding community and it is great to increase participation with young children through the club.”
With the $2,500 grant the club purchased mini-nets, red- and green-dot balls that are slower-bouncing for students learning the game, and different-length racquets made especially for smaller players.
“The racquets are the perfect size for my 6th grade students, as well as my 3rd and 4th grade students,” Dingus said. “Prior to this we had to use cones and ropes as we didn’t have the smaller nets, and the racquets were too big for the students.”
School tennis teachers and club leaders are Net Generation certified, spreading the love of tennis and utilizing the expertise of Net Generation kids-sized equipment and curriculums. By focusing on play rather than competition, building character, and championing individual challenges, students are empowered to grow and develop at their own pace.
“I wish my elementary PE teacher had exposed me to the game when I was younger,” Dingus said. “Tennis is a wonderful lifetime sport that can be enjoyed by anyone, any age. I watched my grandmother play tennis with her friends and always wished to have the same skill set.”
Dingus sees the fervent young tennis players feeding into local middle school and high school play, and beyond.
“My hope is that more students will continue to learn to love the game of tennis and want to continue practicing their skills outside of PE class,” she said. “With more youth participation, both middle and high schools should see an increase in athletic commitment to their tennis teams, and local courts and clubs should see an increase in facility use by younger members of the community. Students who gain interest after completing my current tennis unit at PE go home and request private lessons from tennis coaches at the local club facility. They are so eager to grow their games.”
To learn more about applying for USTA Florida equipment grants through the USTA Florida Foundation go to ustafloridafoundation.com/apply-for-grants/equipment-grants.
ABOUT THE USTA FLORIDA 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.