(CBS Local Sports)–Tennis was one of the most popular sports played during the pandemic and the USTA Foundation is looking to take advantage of that momentum. The foundation’s new president Kathleen Wu recently announced a new initiative called “Rally For The Future,” which calls for $20 million to be raised over the next three years to increase participation in tennis and after school academic programs in major cities like New York, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago.
CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith chatted with Wu about the goals of this initiative and the future of tennis in America.
“Shout out to all those people who picked up a racquet. It’s incredible to get a 22% increase in any sport and we are delighted to see that,” said Wu. “From the foundation’s standpoint, we are even more delighted that where we are seeing a lot of growth is in underserved communities that the USTA Foundation already had a footprint in some of these communities. We are excited for the future and we are hopefully coming off a record number of new tennis players. Rally For The Future is our single largest campaign and it’s very ambitious. If you don’t put it out there, you don’t get it.”
The USTA Foundation raised $6.5 million last year with its Rally To Rebuild initiative. The money raised by the foundation is used to bring tennis and after school academic programming to cities across America. While Wu was previously on the board of the USTA Foundation, she is excited to be the president of the foundation because she can be directly responsible for carrying on the work of the late great Arthue Ashe. The tennis player established the National Junior Tennis and Learning Network in the 1960s and that is who the USTA Foundation still works with to this day.
“It is carrying out Arthur Ashe’s mission in the most amazing way,” said Wu. “In a nutshell, we raise money and it directly goes into grassroots tennis. Children have suffered tremendous academic losses in these underserved communities and under-resourced communities because of lack of internet and everything else we’ve read about. There’s a lot of catchup to do and it will take every fiber of local government and state governments, but I think there is a place for the USTA Foundation to provide supplemental academic and physical fitness. Arthur Ashe went into it to teach life skills and teach resilience and commitment and dedication and time management. It was about building the full person, not just the tennis component, so that’s what I think is so important about our mission.”
To learn more about Rally For The Future, go to ustafoundation.com.