The USTA today announced that long-time partner American Express will present the inaugural "Fresh Courts" program, a philanthropic effort to invest in developing communities through the renovation of existing, disrepaired tennis facilities in various markets across the U.S. The 2010 program targets 17 tennis courts in three cities including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York, during Olympus US Open Series events and the US Open.
All work on the courts will be performed by the USTA's Facility Assistance department. Work is scheduled to begin in all three markets in September, with the goal of having all three sites completed by early-fall. Annually, the USTA refurbishes nearly 700 courts in approximately 200 communities around the country.
"American Express' Fresh Courts program will impact thousands of tennis fans and is a tremendous example of our partners giving back to communities that support tennis," said J. Wayne Richmond, General Manager of the Olympus US Open Series. "With their support we can bring our new QuickStart play format to more kids than ever before."
"American Express has been a proud sponsor of the US Open for 17 years, bringing fans closer to the sport they love and enhancing viewing experiences for Cardmembers live on-site," said Jessica Igoe, Director of Global Sponsorship Marketing, American Express. "Our goal with Fresh Courts is to inspire and grow the local passion for tennis, while reinvesting valuable resources to strengthen the community through sport."
In Los Angeles, the Fresh Courts program targets eight full-sized courts at the Jackie Tatum Harvard Tennis Courts. Located in one of the city's busiest parks, the courts will serve as the legacy for the Farmers Classic and the USTA Southern California section. The restoration project includes acrylic repair for court cracks, court resurfacing and two coats of color. Additionally, four of the 78-foot courts will feature blended lines for kid's tennis using the QuickStart play format. QuickStart is the new play format for teaching tennis, designed to ease access to the game by utilizing specialized equipment, shorter court dimensions and modified scoring, all tailored to kids ages 10 and under. The park currently hosts 600 to 800 residents four nights a week as part of Los Angeles' "Summer Night Light" program, designed to attract at-risk youth.
In Washington, D.C., the Fresh Courts program is targeting two courts in Columbia Heights, a high-traffic location near the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park, home of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, the third men's event on the Olympus US Open Series calendar. Similar to Los Angeles, the two renovated, 78-foot courts will be lined to accommodate four 36-foot and two 60-foot courts for kid's tennis programming. Currently the courts are used by residents in the Columbia Heights area, Bell Multicultural High School students, Bancroft Elementary School students, and especially the Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Program which is implemented by Washington, D.C.'s Latin American Youth Center. Pancho Gonzalez serves around 80 children ages six to 14. The majority of the tennis youth in the Pancho Gonzalez Program is of diverse and disadvantage backgrounds. Michael de Leon, Director of Pancho Gonzalez says he is "thrilled with the generosity of American Express. Tennis is growing fast in Washington because it fosters resilience, hard work and dedication which are values that can be extremely beneficial to improve the lives of at-risk youth. The renovation will enhance the current activities and further improve the conditions of tennis programming."
For New York, American Express' Fresh Courts program will work with tennis courts located in Brooklyn's McCarren Park. The 35-acre park services the Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods and currently contains seven full-sized tennis courts, one of which was recently resurfaced through the efforts of the McCarren Tennis Association and park volunteers. As part of the Fresh Courts program, the remaining courts will be completely resurfaced and renovated, and upon project completion, McCarren Park will contain six full-sized, 78-foot courts, and two permanent 36-foot courts for the QuickStart play format.
About the Olympus US Open Series
Now in its seventh season, the Olympus US Open Series has established itself as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking ten summer tournaments to the US Open. Fans can follow the action throughout the summer through national television coverage, culminating each week with back-to-back men's and women's finals every Sunday afternoon. Players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open. In 2008, Olympus became the first title sponsor of the Series. The Olympus US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Evian, SPDR Gold Shares and Grand Marnier. This is the first year that American Express has served as a sponsor for the US Open Series, enhancing Cardmembers' on-site experiences with complimentary radios, allowing fans to listen to the play-by-play commentary and match updates while they watch the action live from the court, gift with purchase and Cardmember services.
Sam Querrey won the 2009 Olympus US Open Series men's title and Elena Dementieva won the women's title. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history -- $2.4 million -- for winning US Open and the Olympus US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series, winning $2.2 million -- the largest purse in women's sports history.
About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with 740,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 90-plus Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis, and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. USTA Serves, the National Charitable Foundation of the USTA, provides financial support for disadvantaged youth and people with disabilities through tennis and education programs. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.