Fast forward to 2014 when Steve took over as Director of Strategic Sales at PlaySight USA. In 2019 he started his own consulting business in the tennis industry and added UTR to his list of clients. Soon thereafter he was introduced to the idea of a Service Year Initiative for college graduates and he subsequently began helping the ITA with a pilot program for TENNIS FOR AMERICA.
Tennis for America
The only time I saw the term "Tennis for America" in the media was in a 2011 OUR SERVE article in RSI by Peter Francesconi.Then, a few weeks ago, I connected with Steve Devereux and found out about a new ITA initiative by the same name. Since I am a strong believer in the concept of apprenticeships and vocational schools, I wanted to explore TFA and its promises.
Steve Devereux played college tennis at Harvard and received his law degree at Northeastern but decided he didn't want to be a corporate lawyer. During and after college he coached tennis and became a chief coach for the ITF, mainly in Africa. In 1982 he wrote a book about tennis injuries and also began to work for HEAD. First in the player promotion department and then in international sales, at a time when Arthur Ashe was Head of the Advisory Board at HEAD.
Tennis for America
An Exciting New ITA Initiative
By Rich Neher
Steve Devereux explained, "Tennis for America" (TFA) was first conceived of and seriously discussed when David Benjamin (Princeton Men's Coach for 35 years and head of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association for almost as long) and Tim Russell, who succeeded David as CEO of the ITA, spent the day at the 2015 US Open with John Bridgeland ("Bridge") and his former college coach, Dave Fish.
John was receiving the ITA Achievement Award and his company, Civic, is the co-founder of TFA, along with the ITA, which will serve as the Founding Partner and pilot administrator for the initiative."
Steve jokes, "Lots of Harvard Tennis "DNA" in the origins of the project... which is one of the reasons I jumped in and helped raise $..."
The TFA website states, "The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) in conjunction with AmeriCorps VISTA and nationally recognized National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) organizations is working together to help tackle poverty through tennis in the United States. Tennis For America VISTA Fellows are placed throughout the country to utilize their elite tennis backgrounds and academic credentials to add significant value to the organizations who are making tremendous impacts with their communities. The first year of this project was successfully launched in June 2020 with eight VISTA’s working at four host sites in CA, IL, NY, and MD.
Steve adds, "Tennis for America fellows are high achieving recent college graduates who played college tennis and commit to serving for one year, including training. These Tennis Ambassadors will receive a small living stipend, and, potentially, an Education Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service (the independent federal agency that oversees existing national service programs), to defray the costs of college. Living stipends are usually $12-15,000 a year and the Education Award is equivalent to a Pell Grant at $6,095."
Additionally, the ITA is providing housing support for the Fellows.
WHO ARE THE FIRST TFA FELLOWS?
The TFA explains on their launch page: TFA secured eight athletes for its pilot year to serve across four partner locations. Each fellow brings unique strengths to the program and although their experiences will look different, they will be united by their work to help build the capacity of each partner organization. Their biographies are below.
"Tennis for America will have as its overall mission the growth of the game of tennis and the nurturing in particular of American players of all ages."
In this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Tennis for America Ambassadors will make a difference in the world through hands-on experiences, learn critical 21st-century skills such as problem-solving and communication, and strengthen their network.
The TFA website hopes to entice more students to apply for a Fellowship.
WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER APPLYING TO BE A TENNIS FOR AMERICA FELLOW?
The ITA believes that tennis can lead the way for other intercollegiate sports to create a national non-military year of service program. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a major role in the establishment of a program that could go on to impact thousands of lives in a truly meaningful way. Whether you want to learn more about the nonprofit world, understand the tennis industry, make life-long connections, or you just want to give back to the sport and country that made it possible for you to play college tennis, we promise this will be a unique and challenging experience like no other.
Applications for the second group of Tennis for America Fellows will open on October 15, 2020. There will be a four-step application process. The first step is to fill out an initial application HERE. If you meet the criteria you will be asked to provide further details before a formal interview with a host site can be scheduled. If you are successful with the first three steps of this process the final step will be to apply to AmeriCorps to become a VISTA. Learn more about the VISTA program. The VISTA program is only available to U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents. You can fill out an initial application form HERE.
If you or a young person you know are interested in joining Tennis for America as early as next year, reach out to Dave Mullins, firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn more.
Steve Devereux is thrilled that despite all the challenges of getting a new initiative like Tennis For America launched in the time of COVID-19, the TFA Pilot Year is off to a great start in all four locations and a second year with more Fellows and more host cities is already being planned!
"Since my days at Head in the early 80s when Arthur Ashe and I decided to make Head the first major sponsor of the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association (now the ITA) I've been a huge fan of organized college tennis. Tim Russell and Dave Mullins at the ITA deserve all immense credit for making TFA a reality along with John Bridgeland. I have been delighted to assist along the way and look forward to continuing to help any way I can in Year 2 and beyond!"
Well, I absolutely love the idea of TFA. I wish them all the best and plan on reporting some progress in the near future.