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Preparing for the Future

DeVonte’ Martin, USPTA Public Relations Coordinator

Five years ago, a group of tennis-teaching professionals walked into the 2013 USPTA World Conference at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida wearing orange shirts. Vibrant and young, the group made their presence known and many began to take notice of  the USPTA U30. To shed a light on young professionals,  members were brought together to film the “USPTA U30” commercial.

The U30 is a team of tennis-teaching professionals under the age of 30 working to create opportunities for young professionals. Their primary goal is to develop a voice for their generation that will magnify the impact they can have in their careers, community and culture of tennis.

The U30 Initiative is led by Director of Competitive Tennis at USTA Florida and USPTA Florida Division President, Jason Gilbert. He saw the USPTA’s aging demographic and knew he needed to find a group of young professionals that would help the USPTA. Since its inception, 15 out of the 17 USPTA divisions have implemented the U30 initiative and it continues to increase in members.

“It’s so exciting to see U30 professionals get together, network, and get mentors with experienced tennis-teaching professionals within our organization,” Gilbert said. “It has been an amazing initiative that we are very excited to continue to grow.”

The initial process for applicants under 30 to join the U30 Initiative is becoming a USPTA member. After passing the on-court certification exam, young tennis-teaching professionals are invited to join the USPTA U30 Initiative by members like Kyle LaCroix. LaCroix, a Florida Tester and U30 member, was brought into the initiative after speaking with Gilbert and has been dedicated to growing the next wave of young tennis-teaching professionals ever since.

“My role in the USPTA U30 as the Florida Tester, is that I get all the U30’s coming into the USPTA during the application process and I educate them about the U30 Initiative,” LaCroix said. “From there, I make sure the applicants know they will receive a call from either Jason or Gregory Heartt who oversees recruitment.”

Heartt, a USPTA Elite Professional, and U30 Recruitment Chair said one of the strategies he utilizes to get young tennis-teaching professionals into the U30 Initiative is sending an email congratulating them on joining the association and inviting them to be a part of the U30 meeting.

“I remember the first conference I attended, I felt lost because I was younger and in a world where everyone knows everyone in the tennis industry,” Heartt said. “You’re a fly on the wall and one of the great things about the U30 Initiative is that when you’re at a conference, immediately you’re recognized by U30 members and we all attend the sessions and then hang out afterward. It’s a great feeling to be a part of the U30 family.”*
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