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    In 13 years, Joe Dorn First Serve (formerly YMCA Tennis Georgia) has served over 51 community centers and introduced tennis to nearly 80,000 children.


GTF’s First Serve Initiation - Overview

The Georgia Tennis Foundation was founded in 1986 as a tax-exempt non-profit organization.  Its mission is to grow and enhance tennis in the state of Georgia by providing philanthropic community tennis programs with an emphasis on youth development, talented juniors, aspiring young pros and preserving the history of tennis in Georgia.  The Georgia Tennis Foundation provides funds to community programs and individuals in need.

In the summer of 2002, the Georgia Tennis Foundation was contacted by a summer day camp counselor at the Eastlake YMCA.  He stated that there was an old tennis court in the back of the summer camp at the Eastlake YMCA summer camp.  The Georgia Tennis Foundation donated nets, rackets and balls and covered the fees associated with the program.  The dilapidated tennis court was made playable again and the East Lake YMCA launched a 6-week pilot program led by 2 tennis instructors for 400 low-income youth each week, ages 5 through 13. The pilot project was viewed as a huge success and other metro Atlanta YMCAs requested to participate in the program.  

Thanks to a founding grant from Publix Super Markets Charities, the Georgia Tennis Foundation officially launched YMCA Tennis Georgia on June 17, 2003.  YMCA Tennis Georgia format began as a summer program providing 8 weeks of professional tennis instruction to children in more than 10 Metro Atlanta YMCAs.  The YMCA Tennis Georgia format is just one capstone example of what is now called the Joe Dorn First Serve initiative and has been successful in introducing the sport of tennis to disadvantaged children in a safe neighborhood environment.  Youth who are at-risk of drug/alcohol abuse, obesity, violence etc. are offered a positive life/sport alternative. This initiative seeks to introduce tennis to these children as a healthy means to prevent obesity as well as a positive alternative to drugs, alcohol and violence. 

In 2006, Quick start tennis was also introduced into the program.  Quick start tennis not only opened up tennis opportunities for children at an earlier age but also made it possible to institute Joe Dorn First Serve at YMCAs and other tennis centers without tennis courts. Thanks to our Partners in Tennis, GTF programs entered the Savannah/Coastal Georgia area in 2010 and grew to 9 YMCAs in the Savannah/coastal Georgia area in 2011.  In 2012, Joe Dorn First Serve entered Augusta and in 2013, further expanded to Rome, Georgia. That same year, after school programs were also added using instructors from GTF summer programs.

In 2015, GTF summer programs at the Y's, Boys & Girls club, Washington Park and Rome, Georgia had over 9,200 participants and served over 25,000 meals. The First Serve Tennis Georgia programs have supported over 49 community centers and introduced over 80,000 youth to tennis.  We’ve created a great structure for the Joe Dorn First Serve grants and strive to sustain growth through the Foundation’s strategic partnerships with USTA Georgia, ALTA Foundation, Coca Cola Foundation, Arthur Blank Youth Foundation and other community supporters who are passionate about tennis and the GTF mission.  It is our goal to expand the format of the Joe Dorn First Serve program to a statewide footprint to all YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs and other community centers that can grow tennis in Georgia and increase our support of talented junior tennis players and aspiring young pros.

The life sport of tennis embodies etiquette, sportsmanship, self-esteem, problem solving and self-control.  These life skills are integrated throughout tennis programs, and instructors routinely demonstrate how they apply to situations in all aspects of life.  

Georgia Tennis Foundation  Joe Dorn First Serve Grant Requirements- Summer Camps

The GTF is dedicated to providing financial support for community tennis programs that introduce tennis to the youth throughout Georgia. To be considered for summer camp project funding, Georgia community centers and programs must:

  • Have an experienced lead tennis professional (2 years of experience or more) providing instruction and planning program for participants.
  • The grant range for summer programs is $1,000 – $1,500 maximum per location.
  • Coordinator Salary must be pre-approved for summer program coverage.
  • Demonstrate that alongside the tennis programs, the camp incorporates at least one educational element such as a reading. This aspect must be “specified and listed” per location on reports to GTF.
  • Encourage participants to continue playing by encouraging participation (USTA and ALTA handouts when available) in other events such as “youth days at tournaments,” USTA and ALTA league play.
  • Offer a minimum 3 total hours of tennis each week of during a mixed sports summer camps and minimum of 6 total weeks (tennis camps must provide more daily hours).  * Some exceptions dependant of instructor and program formats but must be approved.
  • Provide the following information to GTF at the conclusion of the summer camps:

1)     Weekly participation numbers

2)     Ethnic and Gender demographics.

Black        White        Hispanic        Other        Total                                                                    Male        Female        Total

3)     Quantity of free meals distributed (where applicable)

4)     Participation numbers for current year, past year (for comparison of increased or decreased numbers) and challenges to help GTF evaluate progress

5)     Number of hourly staffing fees, coordinator salary, equipment and other costs

6)     Type of “educational” tie-in per location

7)     Report on the use existing community center staff, training provided to staff versus outside tennis instructors; include actual number of total instructors each week per location

8)     Outline of the overall tennis plan and hours within the camp structure for each location

Your grant request should be made before April 30th before the summer session and should contain all possible details and/or commitments to:

Georgia Tennis Foundation

Re: Committee Center Summer Camp Request

116 Marble Mill Road . Marietta, GA  30060