The USTA announced today that the BallenIsles Country Club at Palm Beach Gardens, the Plantation Bay Golf and Country Club in Ormond Beach, and the Star Island Resort in Kissimmee, were 3 of the 33 winners of the USTA Outstanding Facility Awards Annual Programwhich recognizes excellence in the construction and/or renovation of tennis facilities throughout the country.
BallenIsles is a 65,000 square foot sports complex that includes 21 tennis courts and nine pickleball courts. They have hosted the 2022 ITF Senior World Championships, three USTA tournaments, two USTA junior team tennis events and in recent years we have hosted the Love Serving Autism charity event. Venus and Serena Williams have also trained and curated exhibitions for over a decade at BallenIsles. The facility is home to renowned professional staff with playing and teaching experience at Davis Cup, US Open and Wimbledon level. Racquets director Gary Henderson has reached the top 250 in the ATP rankings and head racquet sports professional Andrei Deascu has reached the top 130 in the ATP rankings and is also currently ranked 11 in the world in professional pickleball.
At Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club, this friendly tennis community includes players who come to play five days a week and many players who meet even outside the tennis courts. They have 390 active players at the club who are friends on and off the pitch. Complete resurfacing of Plantation Bay’s Har-Tru clay, new shade structures and new fencing contribute to their serene setting and beautiful atmosphere. Their new clubhouse will be completed later this year. The club provides play opportunities for all family members ages 3 and up. Although this area has struggled to get kids to play clinics at the next level, Plantation Bay has hosted local tournaments, a growing junior program open to the public, and junior tennis teams in orange, green and yellow. . On the one hand, they cultivate new adult players through a “Learn to Play” program for adults with two tracks: 1 new adult players, 2 players who have not played in years, but want to return to the courts . This program then feeds into their league play. Currently they have 8 teams off the property and that number seems to be increasing every year.
Lately, Star Island hosts USTA adult, junior, or wheelchair tournaments for three or more weekends each month. There’s almost always something exciting going on here! Events and programming to help introduce new and novice players to tennis is Star Island’s #1 goal. All of their courts are lined up for 60′ and 36′ courts and the Net Gen program is central to their programming. Their highly trained staff of USPTA and PTR certified coaches are committed to making tennis fun, exciting and challenging for players of all skill levels. Their focus on on-court video analysis separates their teaching from a typical tennis lesson. Along with their beautiful grass center court, the tennis court is surrounded by trees, pools, bars, and other resort amenities that make Star Island a great place for spectators and players alike.
“Great tennis facilities like BallenIsles Country Club, Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club and Star Island Resort help us grow the game locally, and we’re proud to recognize them for their continued impact on the sport of tennis. “said Craig Morris, general manager of Community Tennis for the USTA. “These facilities have embraced many of our tennis initiatives and have kept the sport at the forefront of its community year after year.”
To be considered for an award, facilities must be under the jurisdiction of a parks and recreation department, educational institution, non-profit corporation or be a private or commercial facility owned and operated that offers both USTA and public programs designed to help grow tennis.
The installations were judged on the following criteria: general layout and adaptation to the site; excellence of the surface of the ground and the lights; Ease of maintenance; accommodation for players, spectators and press/officials; aesthetic; graphics (including the use of signs and landscaping); amenities such as casual seating for spectators, catering services and social areas; and facility participation in USTA programs.
Nominated installations were voted on in the following categories: Public courts who are either small tennis centers with 2 to 10 courts or large tennis centers with 11 or more courts; Private facilities who support the USTA and other “grow play” programs open to the public; and Educational institutions such as colleges, universities, public and private primary schools, colleges or high schools.
All 2022 winners will receive an all-weather wall plaque and sign, which can be mounted on site. One of the winners will earn the prestigious “Featured Installation of the Year” designation and be honored at the USTA Annual Meeting and Conference next year.