The USTA Florida today announced the expanded launch of its Community Coaching Program, where Florida’s public parks can partner to provide training, mentorship and employment to diverse new tennis coaches. The Community Coach program was successfully piloted in fall 2021 in seven locations across the state. The program has expanded to include more industry partners, additional locations and now includes online modules for youth, adult and team coaching.
“We have heard loud and clear that there is a severe shortage of tennis coaches in virtually every area of tennis,” said USTA Florida President Dana Andrews. “This program leverages partnerships across our tennis ecosystem to welcome new coaches and give them the training and experience needed to deliver community programs at facilities across the state.”
Engaging new and diverse coaches has been a strategic priority for USTA Florida for several years now, and the organization fully recognizes the need to try different approaches in order to grow beyond the existing delivery system. The Community Coach program was piloted by members of the USTA Florida Board of Directors who are themselves certified tennis professionals and tennis directors at several public tennis centers across the state.
“We are building the agricultural system for tennis coaching in Florida,” President-Elect Phil Girardi said. “We need a bigger base of entry-level coaches in order to bring in more certified tennis professionals. Currently, we do not have a sufficient pool of new coaches.
The Community Coaches program is open to high school students, community residents, tennis players, and others who are passionate about coaching community tennis. The education effort includes one or two days of training followed by up to ten weeks of paid mentorship in the field and experience in the facility. Hours spent practicing and on court will be shared with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) for potential training credits.
The USTA Florida is the administrator of this program. The organization provides planning, project management and marketing support to the program, ensuring that all coaches are Safe Play approved and receive all the resources available to them. Additionally, all USTA Florida-operated facilities offer training directly. The USPTA Florida has joined the program to help provide training and engage in mentorship of new coaches through its regional representatives.
“Establishments are asking for this training because they have vacancies. We basically function as a connector bringing potential coaches into these jobs and providing the training necessary to perform in the position,” said Danielle Gooding, Director of Community Tennis at USTA Florida. “As a chapter, we are focused on growing programs, however, you can’t grow programs without enough people to run them. The service we provide now is a win-win for everyone.
The USTA Florida has also partnered with Racquet Sports U, an online education platform created by Jorge Capestany and supported by a number of tennis industry leaders. Capestany, who is a professional master with both the USPTA and the PTR, is widely considered a leader in line tennis drills. For this program, he created a Florida-specific dashboard that provides resources for teaching adult beginners, tennis camps, and college and high school teams.
“We live in a digital world. By adding online training modules tailored to the needs of these new coaches, we are able to make coaching more accessible and available to everyone who enters the Community Coaching Program,” said Chuck Gill, CEO of USTA Florida.
For more information on the USTA Florida Community Coach program and to register, please visit www.USTAFlorida.com/CommunityCoach.