The United States Tennis Association concluded its celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month – a month highlighted by multiple Hispanic engagement accomplishments for the year. With tennis participation among Hispanics increasing more than 12% to 1.79 million players around the country in two years, the USTA continues its commitment to growing the sport in the fastest growing segment of the U.S.
The USTA, led by its Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) team, kicked off 2016 by launching the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Hispanic Engagement Grants in conjunction with eight NJTL chapters in select markets across the country. A combined $40,000 was awarded to support their efforts in identifying new sites to run programs targeting Hispanic youth. In addition, $50,000 in grant funds were awarded to 20 local community tennis and other outreach organizations to support their efforts in developing and executing sustainable outreach plans that serve the local Hispanic population. To date in 2016, D&I awarded $90,000 to local programs around the country that will have a direct impact on tennis participation in Hispanic communities. The D&I department also awarded a total of $85,000 to eight USTA sections to drive Hispanic participation and retention within their sections. Combined with the local grants, the D&I department has awarded $175,000 to provide Hispanic communities with the necessary resources to become more engaged in tennis.
In early spring, The USTA hosted its first-ever Hispanic Tennis Coaches Symposium (HTCS), led by Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman, his team of coaches and trainers, and the D&I department. Held at the USTA’s former Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., the event drew more than 25 Hispanic tennis coaches from across the country. The event focused on the USTA Player Development’s approach to training juniors and pros. Attendees were given an opportunity to share their views and experiences in relation to the development of Hispanic players dating back to the past 30 years. Discussions also included proposed improvements to the current Player Development system, including new tactics to be considered in order to optimize the development of Hispanic players and coaches.
Hispanic Outreach Kids’ Day
For the second consecutive year, the USTA hosted Hispanic Outreach Kids’ Day events at Emirates Airline US Open Series tournaments this summer. More than 1,000 kids were positively impacted by the experience, while many of them were participants of a new local program in their respective communities. These programs were established as a result of the USTA D&I Hispanic Outreach grants. Four Series tournaments hosted events: the BB&T Atlanta Open, the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., and the Connecticut Open in New Haven. Former tennis pro and Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez led on and off-court activities in Atlanta, Cincinnati and New Haven. Along with two hours of tennis activities, the kids were treated to lunch and given an opportunity to enjoy an afternoon of tennis at their respective tournaments, many of whom were experiencing professional tennis for the first time.
“We are truly proud of our continuous efforts in serving Hispanic communities around the country,” said USTA Chairman, CEO and President Katrina Adams. “These activations have every potential to grow and prosper as we stay committed to growing the sport through various community-driven and grant opportunities. Though the USTA is making great strides in reaching Hispanic youth and their families, and participation has been on the rise in the past two years, we are far from done and will continue to reach every community in every market until we have fulfilled our goal of participation growth. In addition, it is our duty to support the Hispanic community in other facets as best as we can outside of the sport, for we believe this is a direct correlation to the association’s belief in the impact of diversity and inclusion.”
Encouraging Hispanic youth to try tennis
During the second half of the summer, the USTA conducted a series of advertising and marketing campaigns on Univision, the nation’s leading Spanish-language broadcast network, to target its audience in two key markets, Miami and Phoenix. This campaign was designed to generate awareness and tennis participation, including a social media campaign leveraging the hashtag, #mitenisorteo for a chance to win a trip to the 2016 US Open. In addition, a series of commercials and program integrations directing viewers to visit www.TenisParaTodos.com aired on Univision featuring Fernandez. The spots encouraged Hispanic youth to get out on the court, play as a family, and find courts and programs near them. The USTA generated TenisParaTodos.com landing pages for Miami and Phoenix with info tailored for their local audiences.
“As a parent who understands the importance of getting kids active and keeping them engaged, I am proud to have been selected to participate in the USTA’s advertising and marketing campaigns this summer,” said Fernandez. “Working with media companies that reach the Hispanic community is great, and speaks volumes to their understanding and commitment to reaching families with the positive message of tennis and fun. I look forward to more opportunities to engage with Hispanic youth and working alongside with the USTA to growing Hispanic participation in tennis.”
“The USTA is looking to expand its impact of Hispanic outreach by identifying more partnerships across the country to accelerate the growth of the sport,” said Fabrizio Alcobe-Fierro, Director at Large, USTA Board of Directors. “Utilizing resources in Hispanic communities will certainly drive participation, and the USTA is committed to generating positive outcomes through these efforts.”
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage month
Internally, the USTA staff has continued its efforts in celebrating Hispanic Heritage month at all three of its locations, displaying highlights of each country that make up Latin America, including fun and historical facts connected to tennis. To round out the month, the organization’s Latino/Hispanic Business Resource Group (BRG) is hosting a joint town hall meeting with the Partners LGBT BRG entitled, “Check your PULSE: A Discussion On Being An LGBTQ Latino In The 21st Century.” The event will address challenges faced by LGBTQ Latinos and underscore the importance of allies within the USTA employee community in supporting them and breaking down the barriers.
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