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Coco Gauff wins US Open 2023, drives growth and diversity in US tennis

The 2023 US Open could provide American tennis another chance to build on the surge experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Saturday, 19-year-old tennis star Coco Gauff of Florida defeated Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in three sets 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win the women’s singles championship in September. Earlier in the tournament, another American, Madison Keys, made the semi-finals of the women’s draw before losing to Sabalenka in three sets. And on the men’s side, for the first time since 2005, three American men appeared in the quarterfinals—Francis Tiafoe, Ben Shelton, and Taylor Fritz. Yes, over the past two weeks, American professional tennis players have served as positive examples to Americans across the country in more ways than one, and in an unprecedentedly diverse way. Four of the five players mentioned above—Gauff, Keys, Tiafoe, and Shelton—are Black.

It’s a great thing to see people of color achieving so much success at this widely watched Grand Slam event. This may dispel any remaining misconceptions that tennis is somehow only for the so-called “elite”, that is, people from certain socio-demographic backgrounds. The success of Serena and Venus Williams over the past two decades has likely helped attract large numbers of people to the sport. In fact, during the US Open, Gauff described Serena Williams as her “idol” and said that even though she did not get the chance to play against Williams, “I’m still happy to be a product of her legacy.” Here for American tennis.” So, Gauff’s success at this year’s US Open could, in turn, inspire even more kids from diverse backgrounds to pick up a racquet. The same applies to other American players as well. Both Gauff and Shelton participated in this year’s edition of Arthur Ashe Kids Day, which took place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center a week before the start of the US Open and strives to get more youth involved each year goes. game.

Tennis participation in the US has been increasing in each of the last three years, with an overall increase of 33% since 2020, as I covered forbes In January, over the same time period, the diversity of players playing the game also increased, with the number of tennis players of Hispanic/Latino origin increasing by 90%, with the number of black tennis players increasing by 46%. And as I reported, the number of tennis players of Asian and Pacific Islander descent has increased by 37% forbes in March.

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely contributed to the overall increase in tennis participation since 2020. The US was in a bit of a pickle in the spring of 2020 when trying to deal with the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). CoV-2), many Americans were left looking for ways to remain physically active and social with each other while staying safe. Lo and behold, tennis – where you can hit topspin, underspin and many other spins – has become a solution for many people. And this surge in tennis participation has proven to be more than just a 2020 trend like going months without getting a haircut or attending business meetings without wearing pants. The continued increase in tennis participation has shown that many people who first picked up a racquet in 2020 have continued to swing those racquets since.

But COVID-19 was by no means the only reason for the recent surge in American tennis. For years before the pandemic, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and its charitable arm, the USTA Foundation, were already taking “groundstrokes” work to grow the sport in the US, including the establishment and development of a National Junior Tennis Association. Is. Learning (NJTL) chapters across the country. Such chapters have provided youth with opportunities to learn and play tennis as well as educational opportunities. Many of these chapters serve communities that are diverse and disadvantaged, two descriptive terms that unfortunately often travel together in this country.

All these efforts before the pandemic provided a baseline on which the game and its diversification could grow. When many NJTL chapters were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the USTA Foundation launched a “Rally to Rebuild” campaign to raise over $6.5 million to support these chapters. Following this successful rally, the USTA Foundation held another rally—the “Rally for the Future” campaign—to maintain the momentum to further grow the NJTL chapter.

Of course, providing low-cost or no-cost opportunities to disadvantaged communities requires dough, bread, or whatever you want to call it, money. And speaking of bread, Jersey Mike’s Subs is sandwiching this final weekend of the US Open with a fundraiser. Jersey Mike’s will donate 20 percent of all sales through September 9 and 10 to the “Rally for the Future” campaign. This will be from more than 2,500 Jersey Mike’s locations across the country, not just New Jersey. Additionally, this weekend, NJTL chapters in 35 different markets across the country are hosting Community Sports Days to help youth learn and play tennis. And part of this programming has been Jersey Mike’s lunches for all the youth participants. Jersey Mike’s has already raised over $8 million for the USTA Foundation since 2019.

Growing tennis participation and the diversity of its players is important not only for American tennis but for America in general. America has been battling another pandemic in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic for several years: an epidemic of physical inactivity among both youth and adults. And physical inactivity can increase the risk of all kinds of mental and physical health conditions. The data also show that this physical inactivity epidemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. So if tennis can help both youth and adults become more physically active, a sport that has benefited from the pandemic could in turn help combat a pandemic that has been around for a very long time and Not going away any time soon.

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