The Gainesville community showed their love for tennis on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, as USTA Florida celebrated its reopening of four tennis facilities: Albert Ray Massey Park – Joyce Oransky Tennis Center, T.B. McPherson Park, Tom Petty Park, and Northside Park. More than 200 residents attended the event at Joyce Oransky Tennis Center – many of whom tried tennis for the very first time.
Directed by the USTA Florida Tennis Management Division in partnership with the City of Gainesville, the facility still undergoing renovations was christened by a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included the City of Gainesville Recreation Manager Billy Marcantel, Play Tennis Gainesville Head Pro Christopher Champion, and USTA Florida staff including Executive Director Laura Bowen and Tennis Management Director Frank Swope. The ribbon-cutting was broadcast live on the Play Tennis Gainesville Facebook page.
“Play Tennis Gainesville is a great opportunity for USTA Florida to be involved with the City of Gainesville,” Frank Swope said. “We’re excited to be here and to manage the four facilities with program offerings and organization for the community on behalf of the City of Gainesville.” Play Tennis Gainesville Head Pro Christopher Champion will lead the range of programs and events, and each member of the community will be able to take advantage of a first free group class between Monday, Feb. 4, to Friday, Feb. 8 by signing up with the new registration system through www.playtennisgainesville.com.
Residents got a special treat in the form of a professional wheelchair tennis exhibition, featuring Para-Olympian Gold Medalist and wheelchair tennis professional Mackenzie Soldan and University of Florida student and wheelchair tennis professional Chris Herman. Some kids and adults got in on the fun, joining Mackenzie and Chris for a few points. Wheelchair tennis is just one of the community-based programs that USTA Florida is bringing to the parks, fulfilling it’s mission to Promote and Develop Tennis for All.
“To have the community see wheelchair tennis at its best level and to have the chance to play in with the wheelchair players was really something special, and I think that’s something this community is going to remember” said Laura Bowen. “We’re here to help everyone play no matter what, and that’s what we showcased here today and what we will continue to provide to all four locations of Play Tennis Gainesville.”
After the exhibition, resident took to the courts themselves for adult tennis, Net Generation play for children and families. Off court activities included free lunch, a caricaturist and face painting.
Gainesville is one of three cities with facilities managed by the USTA Florida Tennis Management Division, joining Cocoa Beach and Fort Walton Beach.
ABOUT USTA FLORIDA TENNIS MANAGEMENT
The USTA Florida Board of Directors in 2017 unanimously approved the creation of a new Tennis Management Division to promote and develop tennis in Florida. USTA Florida Tennis Management delivers high-quality tennis programs, teaching pros and management, utilizing USTA networks and partnerships to ensure tennis grows in local communities for all ages and demographics. USTA Florida Tennis Management is raising the standards for tennis programming and facility management across the state of Florida. For more information go to www.ustaflorida.com/tennismanagement.
For more photos and video or to learn more about Play Tennis Gainesville, go to www.playtennisgainesville.com