Alumni SportStory: Jennifer Myatt at USTA New England
As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumna Jennifer Myatt (Sport Management, 2013).
Ever since I started high school, I knew I wanted to work in the sports world. I came to realize that sports played a positive impact in my life- the social aspect and how it taught me values of hard work and team work. But where exactly in the sports industry? I came to college and was accepted into the sport management program. I knew exactly where I wanted my career to go once I took a service-based learning class: out in the community making a difference.
I am a Tennis Service Representative for USTA New England, a local section of the United States Tennis Association, the governing body of tennis. I work for the Community Tennis Department, apart from the competitive and high level tennis professionals we see on TV. Really my job is all about building relationships and creating partnerships. (I was offered a position to USTA New England after I was an intern for them in the Summer to complete my undergraduate degree, so it shows the process does work.)
I primarily work with schools, park and recreation agencies, and community tennis associations to teach and grow tennis. I am a tennis “trainer” despite never playing tennis until after I was hired with USTA. This means I visit elementary schools and deliver an “on-court” presentation on how to teach tennis in any nontraditional space, no courts required. Anyone can teach and play tennis. USTA recently changed the rules of tennis about 5 years ago, that promote lighter and shorter racquets along with tennis balls of different compression, so they bounce lower and are softer. This is great for beginners and also playing indoors. My job is to grow the sport of tennis and the possibilities and opportunities are endless. I work on connecting tennis providers to resources in the community to make their tennis program a quality and successful one. For example, a volunteer-based grassroots tennis program may not know where to play tennis, so I will connect them to a tennis club or other volunteers or stakeholders that can help or share their story.
The community department also offers grants to help start programs in a city, town, or school. I have helped get free youth-sized equipment into the hands of great youth-serving agencies as well as stipends to cover the cost of court fees, team t-shirts, and coaches. There are five major community tennis associations in the inner-cities of Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Danbury, and Norwalk and the USTA has a great relationship with them to support their efforts as they combine tennis and academic support in their youth program. Some of these organizations started out with no money or staff and now, years later, are incoporated nonprofit organizations with $200,000+ operating budgets.
I also manage a Junior Team Tennis league, that boasts over 1,500 participants yearly. I coordinate with many local tennis clubs and facilities on who is participating and when. I have to keep track of available court time for these youth teams and create and publish a schedule on a sport database, TennisLink. Teams qualify for the Connecticut USTA Junior Team Tennis State Championship each season and they meet at the end of the year to compete for the championship. I act as tournament director here and it is tough work but a lot of fun. Winners are the state level move on to New England Sectionals and then Nationals. The championships are held in the Summer and are is my busiest and most favorite time of year.
For a more in-depth view of what we do for an organization please see the article “Granting Tennis Wishes in Bridgeport”.