Florence Tennis Association - Florence Tennis Association Named 2021 Southern CTA of the Year

Florence Tennis Association Named 2021 Southern CTA of the Year

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On November 5, members of the Florence Tennis Association were notified that the FTA has been named 2021 Community Tennis Association of the Year by the Southern Section of the United States Tennis Association (USTA).  The FTA was selected for this prestigious award because of its focus on growing tennis in Florence and the Pee Dee area, its support for local governments and businesses, and its success in bringing new players, including adults and children from under-served communities, into the sport.

FTA President Kevin Light noted that the all-volunteer, non-profit organization has “a committed, passionate and dedicated team working hard every day to promote and develop the growth of tennis by introducing new players to the game, continuing to improve our offerings for seasoned players and focusing on diversity throughout the whole process.”

The FTA also learned that its Local League Coordinator, Dusty Braddock, has been named Southern’s 2021 Local League Coordinator of the Year.  Both awards will be presented at the Southern Annual Meeting in Atlanta next January.

USTA Southern is the largest of the United States Tennis Association Association's 17 Sections, covering nine states and about a quarter of all US tennis players, as well as hundreds of local associations and leagues. 

Highlights of the FTA’s work include managing or supporting over 20 adult and junior tournaments, including the McLeod for Health Florence Open professional event, two major state tournaments, boys and Girls High School Tournaments and the Polar Bear tournament, where the entry fee is a toy for a local Christmas toy drive. 

The FTA also manages adult recreational leagues throughout the Pee Dee and conducts a Junior Team Tennis program in the spring and fall.  In 2021, it produced over a dozen low-cost multi-week small group clinics for adult beginners, including programs in Florence, Lake City, Hartsville and other nearby communities.  It also launched the Ron James Youth Tennis Program, which provides no-cost summer and after-school training for underserved children.  Behind the scenes, the FTA works with area governments to ensure that first rate tennis facilities are available to the public and provides direct assistance to teams at Francis Marion and the Florence public high schools and to area teaching pros.  In addition, each year FTA events bring hundreds of thousands of tourism dollars into the community, as well as significant grant funding from tennis organizations and others—over $300,000 since the mid-1990s.

The FTA was National CTA of the Year in 2007 and has been state CTA of the Year on several occasions. It has also been recognized for community service by a number of organizations, including USTA South Carolina, the South Carolina Recreation and Parks Association and the Florence Athletic Hall of Fame. Over the years, many of its members have been recognized at the national, sectional and state levels for their contributions to the growth of tennis.