Launched in March of 2017, NET Generation has recruited close to 37,000 coaches, school teachers, community organizations, and volunteers so far—more than double its commitment—and serves 320,000 young players, said Craig Morris, Chief Executive for USTA’s Community Tennis programs. Morris emphasized that USTA requires, and funds, a Safe Play background check for every NET Generation provider who works with the children.
USTA has promised to serve at least 500,000 youth through NET Generation, including at least 300,000 kids in after-school and summer programming with the National Junior Tennis and Learning network. This network is a nationwide group of more than 600 nonprofit youth development organizations that provide free or low-cost tennis, education, and life skills to youth in low-income families and underserved communities.
“We are committed to keeping these kids healthy and safe,” he said. The Safe Play background check includes watching a 45-minute online training module; reading the USTA Safe Play document on conduct, policies, and guidelines; and completing a criminal background screening application with the National Center for Safety Initiatives.
Using kid-sized tennis racquets, lower nets, and slower-bouncing balls, even the tiniest tennis enthusiasts can learn to play through NET Generation programs, available not only in Florida, but also in nearly 2,000 communities across the nation. Through its commitment to PHA, USTA makes these programs, and all necessary equipment, available to children of all ages and income levels.
There is no cost for schools to participate in NET Generation, which provides equipment and curriculum free of charge as long as the school has a partnership with an outside tennis organization where kids can continue to play the game. USTA will also provide these resources, in addition to training the coaches, to community organizations at no charge.
NET Generation covers all aspects of youth play by offering programs in schools and at after-school and community recreation centers; providing lessons from professional coaches; and offering team competitions and tournaments, said Morris. No matter where a family lives, it can easily locate the closest NET Generation-affiliated program through the organization’s website.