USTA NorCal is one of 17 USTA sections throughout the United States. As the section’s Manager of Community, Development and Partnerships, Alison Vidal manages a field staff of 10 with a mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis throughout Northern California.
Vidal grew up in San Francisco and considered Golden Gate Park Tennis Center her second home. At USTA NorCal she gives back by working with many community-based organizations and oversees the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) and Schools programs.
1. What are your responsibilities at USTA NorCal?
I oversee our Community Tennis Department, outreach, partnerships with our member organizations and program development with the overall goal of growing the sport of tennis in all communities.
2. What are some of the effective programs you’ve seen over the years to grow the game of tennis, both with youth and adults?
On the youth side we created an exposure-based program (Honesty, Inspiration, Teamwork and Sportsmanship or H.I.T.S.) that develops the child before the athlete. The 6-to-8-week curriculum focuses on tennis and life skills lessons to develop the overall child on and off the court. Since the program's inception we have reached more than 30,000 kids and trained over 400 coaches that had no tennis background but who can now run this program. The program is geared to touch all kids no matter their socio-economic status.
On the adult side we continue to work on programs that can help get more adults playing the game. We came up with a program called "Ready Set Rally" that teaches adults in six classes to be able to rally and be ready for some type of tennis play. Our overall goal is to get more adults out there playing so that ultimately they may be able to play with all no matter their level. Additionally, we have created fun family events and family tournaments to get the families out there playing together.
3. What types of positive outcomes do you see in afterschool programs like SF Rec & Park’s Tennis & Learning Center program?
The life lessons that are taught on a tennis court can be transferred to overall life lessons off the court. The TLC program is one of the strongest NJTL (National Junior Tennis and Learning Program) chapters in our section. The opportunity to provide low-cost tennis and education programming to the youth at these sites is so impactful. We are proud of the growth of these programs and are proud of our partnership with the TLC.
4. What role has tennis played in your life?
As a native San Franciscan I grew up playing at Golden Gate Park. This was family to me and was a place that was a second home. To this day I am still very close to the people whom I grew up with and who helped nurture my tennis development. Our High School Tennis Championships were played at Golden Gate Park with Rosie Casals on hand to hand out the championship trophy. That was one of my fondest memories as a child and the fact that she too was a George Washington High School graduate was exciting for me.
After playing tennis at UC Davis I returned to SF for graduate school and continued to play. Even though I no longer live in San Francisco I still return home to the city I grew up in and play at the site when I can. Everyone in my family are avid tennis players as well and I am excited to bring them to GGPTC when it re-opens.
5. What do you think the renovated Golden Gate Park Tennis Center facility will add to tennis in SF and the Bay Area?
Golden Gate Park Tennis Center has a history like no other center anywhere. The people who played at the site over the years are remarkable. To be able to create new memories and more history and create the opportunities for more play will be so impressive and exciting for all. To have a landmark like the new center in San Francisco will truly be unlike any facility in the NorCal section. We are excited to help grow the programing, events and opportunities that will continue to grow the sport of tennis in our section and at Golden Gate Park Tennis Center.