From the USTA – (February 27, 2013) WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The USTA today announced that it will launch Tennis Festivals throughout the month of March, designed to get kids active and excited about tennis. The kick-off to these Tennis Festivals coincides with the annual “Tennis Night in America” celebration at New York’s Madison Square Garden on March 4, which will feature Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Joining the efforts to get kids active is Bob Harper, fitness expert and star of The Biggest Loser, and Jeff Sutphen, host of Nickelodeon’s Figure It Out, who will participate in an on-court youth tennis demonstration with local New York City kids preceding the evening’s tennis matches.
“I am thrilled to be part of the USTA’s efforts to advocate the importance of health and fitness,” said Harper. “These Tennis Festivals are a great opportunity to share with parents the benefits of involving their children in the sport.”
“I’m beyond honored that the USTA asked me to be involved with their youth tennis efforts,” said Sutphen. “Tennis is one of those rare sports that you can play your entire life. The earlier you start, the longer you will get to play.”
Since 2009, the USTA has leveraged Tennis Night in America to launch more than 5,000 youth tennis events nationwide, as well as to provide a platform for facilities to register children for spring and summer tennis programs. These events have contributed to the overall growth in youth participation in the sport. In 2012, the number of facilities offering programs for kids ages 10 and under grew 120 percent, and participation among kids 6-10 years old grew 13 percent over the previous year. This year’s Tennis Festivals are designed to welcome youth of all ages and skill levels. Parents also are encouraged to participate and learn how tennis is now sized right for their child’s age and ability.
“Tennis Festivals are a wonderful way to introduce kids—and their parents—to the lifetime sport of tennis,” said Kurt Kamperman, USTA Chief Executive, Community Tennis. “These events are designed so that kids can experience tennis in a relaxed, fun atmosphere that will encourage them to get involved—and stay involved—in the sport.”
Tennis Night in America will feature the BNP Paribas Showdown, with the world’s No. 1 woman player and 2012 US Open champion, Serena Williams, facing off against two-time Australian Open Champion, Victoria Azarenka. In addition, former World No. 1 and eleven-time Grand Slam singles champion, Rafael Nadal will take on former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.
The on-court youth tennis demonstration is scheduled to take place at 6:20 p.m. EST featuring special guests, Harper and Sutphen, with six local youth from the Queen’s area. The demonstration will highlight the USTA’s youth initiative, 10 and Under Tennis, which utilizes modified equipment and courts tailored to a child’s age and ability. The youth tennis demonstration and the women’s match will be broadcast on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. The men’s match will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. Tickets start at $50.00 and are on sale now at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.
To find a Tennis Festival, visit youthtennis.com.