Central Falls, RI Makes Tennis a Focus this Fall
CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Central Falls is a tiny town in Rhode Island with 19,000 residents. It sits on one square mile of the state, making it the smallest and most densely populated town in RI. It is also the only town in RI without a permanent tennis court. Central Falls Mayor, James Diossa wants to change that and it is his intent to bring tennis to life in the town he loves
In August 2014, Mayor Diossa met with USTA New England President and CEO, R. Gary Pina as well as International Tennis Hall of Fame Life Trustee, Mark Stenning to brainstorm about the possibilities of creating tennis programming. The initial meeting was a success – resulting in the goals of building three permanent tennis courts, bringing tennis to the schools and then to the broader community.
"We have an incredible opportunity in Central Falls. Tennis is a sport that can be played virtually anywhere and Central Falls has the desire to make the sport a regular offering during afterschool hours to the children of the town. We are committed to helping them reach their goal anyway we can," said Pina.
Although there are currently no tennis courts in the town, there is a centralized, unused parking lot that can be used in the interim to provide programming – it just needed court lines and nets. Knowing that the mayor and other town officials wanted to move on their tennis training immediately, Dalton Track and Tennis painted lines for two tennis courts – free of charge.
"We are extremely excited to be partnering with USTANE, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and others to bring tennis to the City of Central Falls! Mayor Diossa’s administration is committed to growing the recreational opportunities we offer to our community, especially to our youth. Special thanks to all of those working to provide this opportunity for our kids, our community and our city," said Derek Collamati, Fund Developer for the City of Central Falls.
As one of the first steps towards tennis programming, USTA New England hosted an In-Service Training on the courts to teach potential instructors and coaches how to teach tennis. There were 16 participants in total including Physical Education teachers, the Athletic Director, Park and Recreation coaches and other community leaders.
"It was a great training. What’s so special is that they incorporated the community into it. Many times, we are training P.E. teachers only. It was nice to see the interest to learn from other community sectors," said Kristen Liteplo, USTA New England Tennis Service Representative for Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The plan is to start tennis in the schools with the training and equipment provided by USTA New England. Beyond that, the Mayor and city officials want to have town programming available to keep the kids fit, healthy and off the streets after school dismisses.
"The training we provided was just the first step towards bringing tennis back to Central Falls. There is a lot of potential there and we are very excited about that. Our hope is that someday in the near future, all kids in Central Falls will have the opportunity to play tennis during their school day and then afterwards on the town courts," said Sarah Rice, Manager of Community Tennis for USTA New England.
The city has already begun raising money to build the three permanent courts in a centrally located park. The project is estimated to cost more than $150,000.