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Friday, November 27, 2020 
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Our First Decade

QuickStart Tennis of Central Virginia
Our First Ten Years -- Our Story

It all started in February 2008 . . . with a demonstration of the new, play-to-learn QuickStart Tennis format. Our founder, Lynda Harrill, was on the board of the Charlottesville Tennis Patrons Association (CTPA) at the time, and volunteered to go to the session to see what the new kid-sized tennis was all about. Three weeks later she had USTA Virginia conduct a training session for elementary and middle school PE teachers in Albemarle County. Some of those teachers then taught QuickStart Tennis in pilot summer programs for Albemarle County Parks & Recreation. Lynda organized a QuickStart Tennis Day in May 2008 to kick off the summer programs and more than 100 kids attended. In September 2008, Barbara Watson, a PE teacher at Greer Elementary, requested that Greer become the first school in the area to incorporate QuickStart Tennis into their PE curriculum. Still under the auspices of CTPA, Lynda started writing grant requests to buy kid-sized QuickStart Tennis equipment for schools, and the rest is history.

In April 2009, Lynda decided she could replicate what she was doing for even more underserved kids in rural Virginia. The idea for QuickStart Tennis of Central Virginia (QCV) started taking shape. Unlike traditional Community Tennis Associations (CTAs) that operate in a limited geographic area and primarily focus on running adult leagues and tournaments, Lynda wanted to focus on kid-sized tennis, community outreach, accelerating the introduction of tennis into public schools in central Virginia and building a tennis tradition where none existed. By September 2009, QCV was officially incorporated and 501(c)(3) status was granted shortly after. The USTA initially approved a service area of 21 central Virginia counties and the City of Charlottesville. QCV's first initiative -- Jump Start QuickStart Tennis became a reality and just the start of what QCV has been able to do. We have far exceeded our initial goals and expectations, and we continue to thrive as a special-purpose CTA, the only one like it in the USA.

In May 2009, Go Bananas for QuickStart!, our outreach campaign that uses tennis players as nutritional role models, began with the issuance of the first Go Bananas! card -- WHY do tennis players eat bananas? -- featuring  UVA Men's Tennis Coach Brian Boland as the role model. Go Bananas! has been expanded over the years to include healthy personal habits and life skills. Each year, we reach more than 2,000 kids ages four to eight each year during visits to schools, after-school programs, back-to-school nights, family fitness nights, parks & recreation tennis programs and participation in community events like the Junior League's annual Kids in the Kitchen at the Boys & Girls Club. We give away Go Bananas! bracelets, posters, cards, water bottles, tennis-ball drawstring bags, racquets and balls to reinforce healthy habits and we do it in the FUN QuickStart way that keeps kids engaged and coming back for more.

The idea for BrightSTARS -- Tennis for Me!, a tennis and nutrition immersion format for disadvantaged and at-risk preschoolers, started with a pilot program for the local Head Start program in 2010. In 2013-2014 Lynda visited private preschools to Go Bananas! Then in March 2015, a preschool teacher at Greer Elementary, asked Lynda to visit her class. That got the BrightSTARS ball rolling. We added our 14th classroom for the 2019/2020 school year.

Over the past 10 years we have:

  • Trained more than 2,000 people to teach kid-sized tennis
  • Taken Tennis in PE to 246 schools with 114,000+ students in 31 counties and five independent cities in Virginia
  • Reached almost 20,000 kids with our Go Bananas for QuickStart! healthy-eating and life skills for kids campaign
  • Created 45 Go Bananas! cards for 45 different foods and life skills with 45 different tennis players/coaches as role models
  • Helped create or refurbish Grow Veggies for QuickStart! “tennis gardens” at 11 schools
  • Introduced tennis to almost 2,000 disadvantaged and at-risk preschoolers at 14 public schools through BrightSTARS–Tennis for Me!
  • Assisted in the startup of three other Community Tennis Associations that serve and program 11 counties and three cities in our service area
  • Raised $307,000 to buy tennis equipment for schools, parks & recreation departments, Boys & Girls Clubs, purchase racquets, balls and Go Bananas! giveaways for kids and build six kid-sized tennis courts in Crozet, VA
  • Received financial support from 48 foundations and charitable trusts, 48 corporate donors and 71 individuals, with many making multiple contributions

Our mottoes capture what we're all about . . . creating happy, healthy and active kids in the communities we serve.

A racquet in every hand! A smile on every face!

Want to be a great adult? Be a QuickStart kid!

Want to be a great tennis player? Eat like a great tennis player!

Lynda recently said, “That list of accomplishments looks pretty good to me. If someone had told me 10 years ago we’d do all that and a lot more as a small, all-volunteer organization, I would have thought they were nuts for sure. We’re the only USTA Community Tennis Association, out of more than 750 in the country, that pursues a strategy to accelerate the growth of kid-sized tennis through deliberate and sustained outreach to underserved communities, mostly rural areas, and help those communities start a pathway of tennis programming. We went directly to the public schools to reach the most kids, the fastest. After 10 years, we have 97% coverage of public elementary and middle schools in our 30-county/city service area, and we’ve taken tennis to high schools and private schools, even to 37 schools outside our service area.”

A BIG THANK-YOU to all our donors, volunteers and community partners who stepped up to support our mission. We certainly could not have done all we’ve done without your tremendous support, and we are truly grateful! Now, we are more than excited to begin our next 10 years as the kids keep coming through the pipeline!

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