Unique Inner-City After-School Initiative to Combat Digital Divide and Teach Tennis
Tallahassee, Fla. - February 20, 2002 – The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Florida Governor Jeb Bush today announced the launch of “First Serve”, a USTA national initiative that provides inner-city youth an after-school program with access to adult volunteer mentors, tutors, computers and the fun, physical activity of tennis.
This program is modeled after the facility and curriculum of the Ashe-Buchholz Tennis Center at Moore Park in Miami and the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation in Jacksonville. These programs provide a unique blend of tennis lessons, computers, academics and mentoring which are the basic components of the “First Serve” concept.
The development of the “First Serve” initiative is made possible through a unique array of partners spearheaded by the USTA including Burger King, the premier national sponsor; Court TV, as a media sponsor to produce and air PSAs; the Florida Department of Education, which will provide funds for a mentor coordinator and snacks for the children; IBM and other entities which will donate the computers; Microsoft, which is donating software; municipal governments which are helping with the facility space; tennis foundations, National Junior Tennis League chapters and the local support of many individuals and programs such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Communities in Schools (CIS), and local school boards. World-renowned, tennis instructor Nick Bollettieri, will provide a scholarship to the nationally acclaimed Bollettieri Tennis Academy for one boy and one girl at each “First Serve” site, for a total of 26 scholarships.
Governor Bush’s commitment to quality after-school programming and passion for the game of tennis inspired and accelerated the launch of “First Serve” in Florida. “We’re honored to be the first state in the nation to launch such an important initiative,” said Bush. “As the model for a national campaign, we look forward to the terrific impact ‘First Serve’ can have on Florida’s youth.”
“Launching ‘First Serve’ is an important step in providing youth enriching opportunities to achieve on and off the court,” said Tom Fetzer, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “We eagerly anticipate the success of this program and its far-reaching impact on youth in Tallahassee, as well as throughout the country.”
“When Arthur Ashe and I first talked about developing a tennis program and involving more youth in tennis at Moore Park, we didn’t imagine that it might inspire something so important,” said Nasdaq-100 Open Tournament Chairman Butch Buchholz. “’First Serve’ will continue to provide inner-city kids extra resources to help them reach their potential, academically and athletically.”
Tina McCall-Waters, Site Leader of the Eatonville “First Serve” program, remarked, “As a former tennis player on the national level, and one of the first black women players, I eagerly anticipate ‘First Serve’ as an opportunity to reach out to hundreds of deserving children who would never be exposed to tennis. In Eatonville I look forward to teaching our students the discipline, skills, and just plain fun that is tennis!”
Kelly Tucker, Site Leader of the Jake Gaither Park “First Serve” program, stated that she expects to enroll close to 100 students during the spring of 2002. Bond, Pineview, Springfield, and Wesson Elementary Schools; Fairview, Griffen, and Nims Middle Schools; FAMU, Rickards High School and the Second Chance School are all planning to send students to the program.
Burger King Corporation was founded in Miami in 1954. The BURGER KING® brand has become recognized for great flame-broiled taste and HAVE IT YOUR WAY® food customization. To learn more about the BURGER KING® system, visit http://www.burgerking.com.
Court TV (http://www.courttv.com or AOL Key word: Court TV), a basic cable network, provides a window into the American system of justice through distinctive programming that both informs and entertains. A service of AOL Time Warner and Liberty Media Corp., Court TV has over 63 million subscribers and expects to reach 65 million by early 2002.
CIS is the nation’s largest stay-in-school network, currently providing access to services for more than one million students and their families each year in more than 1,500 schools in 32 states and the District of Columbia. Its community-based, personalized approach embodies the founder, William Milliken’s, long-held philosophy, “Programs don’t change children, relationships do.”
The United States Tennis Association owns and stages the US Open and selects the teams that compete in Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the Olympic Games. The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in America and is a non-profit organization with more than 630,000 members. It invests all its resources to promote and develop the growth of tennis, from the grass roots to the professional levels.
For more information on enrolling a child in “First Serve”, becoming an academic mentor or volunteering as a tennis instructor, contact the Governor’s Mentoring Initiative at www.flmentoring.org or 1-800-825-3786.
For more information contact:
Sylvan, USTA Director of Communications, Community Tennis
Michelle Martinez, USTA Communications Assistant, Community Tennis