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The New USTA Dream Facility in Orlando

Aerial photo of the USTA National Campus in Orlando, FL
It’s a tennis facility like no other, the kind that will draw thousands of players and fans, and might even convince a few to move here, too

A Place Like No Other.

It’s a tennis facility like no other, the kind that will draw thousands of players and fans, and might even convince a few to move here, too. The United States Tennis Association and the Tavistock Group are working together to build the ultimate facility that practically deserves its own zip code.

Built on 63 acres in Lake Nona, just down the road from Medical City, the $60 million project will be known as the USTA National Campus and is being billed as the new home for American tennis. It will feature 102 courts of various surfaces and sizes, not to mention a dormitory for players, offices, fitness spaces, training and locker rooms. It is designed to help grow the game from the youth and recreation level all the way through the professional side of the game.

“It’s been thought through very strategically of how this is going to work as a (tennis) center,” said Virgil Christian, the USTA’s senior director, market/facility development and collegiate tennis. “It’s going to touch a lot of different demographics, a lot of different folks.”

USTA National Campus – Orlando, FL – Opening In 2016

Expected to open in late 2016, the facility has already booked more than 60 events for 2017 involving 25,000 players, and there is plenty more to come down the road, including possible international friendlies between the United States and other countries.

“We’re very fortunate,” Christian said. “People know about it. They want to come here. They want to see it. They want to play here. Nothing like this has ever been done before. Folks are excited about trying to get in. Booking Orlando is an easy sell. There’s a reason why Orlando was chosen. It’s just has everything, and quite honestly – in my mind – it’s the next rising city. People want to be a part of that. It’s already a very tourism driven and very exciting place. But what we see is that this is the next great American city. There is something really special happening here and it’s translating into all these people across the country saying ‘Hey, we want to do our events here.’”

Being able to host tournaments and events will no doubt represent a financial boom to the Orlando area, but for local players who want a piece of the action, don’t worry, you won’t be left out.

The MidAtlantic Intermediate team poses for photos during the 2015 USTA Junior Team Tennis 18 and Under National Championships in Cayce, South Carolina

Diverse Offerings at the USTA National Campus – Orlando, FL 

The USTA National Campus will be a public facility with room for local families, local tennis leagues and kids wanting to learn the sport.

The facility will be broken down into a number of areas.

  • Tournament and league: There will be 24 Har-Tru green clay courts and 16 Plexicushion hard courts along with two player pavilions and a tournament administration office that will include trainer rooms, a stringer area, player lounge and public restrooms.
  • Collegiate tennis: The UCF men’s and women’s teams will play home matches there with 12 Plexicushion hard courts and one future tournament show court. There will be high mast lighting for televised events and elevated seating for 1,200 with additional seating on the north and south ends. This will also include a two-story pavilion with concessions, a public restroom, team locker rooms and an area for trainers and officials.
  • Team USA: Eight DecoTurf hard courts and eight clay courts will be used by the 17 USTA Sections from throughout the country – including Florida – along with coaches and their players to work with USTA Player Development.
  • High performance and player development: Dormitories that can house 32 boys and girls will be part of this area, which includes eight hard courts, eight European red clay courts and six covered courts for the USTA Player Development Division. The strength and conditioning area will include a sand and workout area. The area will also be used for Team USA events.

Of course, a top-notch facility needs its own rehabilitation area.  “We have, in the player development building, hot and cold pools, training rooms – everything an elite athlete’s going to need to get healthy and stay healthy,” Christian said.

  • Indoor courts: There will be six Rebound Ace indoor courts.
  • Family tennis: It will feature eight 36-foot and eight 60-foot courts to help youth and adults develop their games.
  • USTA office building: A three-story building that will have a tennis pro shop, a fitness area, locker rooms, a player’s lounge and cafeteria all on the ground floor with USTA offices taking up the remaining two floors.

The Epicenter of Innovation in Orlando, FL       

With all that room and all of those different areas for different types of players, there could be quite a lot going on at one time at the USTA National Campus.

That’s the beauty of it.

“You might have an 8-year-old or a senior playing on one of the smaller courts, and at the same time, you could have maybe the best junior player or best professional in the world 10 yards away,” Christian said.

In a further effort to develop players, the facility will also be an epicenter for tennis innovation and education, incorporating the latest technology to provide an unprecedented playing, training and educational experience for players, coaches and spectators.

Christian said the USTA and Tavistock both envision a sports innovation cluster near the facility with a number of sports-related companies wanting to move into the area.

“Hopefully, we’ll all look back a number of years from now and go, ‘Wow, you know Lake Nona, that cluster is kind of like the Silicon Valley of sports,’” he said. “You’ll see sports medicine folks there. You’ll see R&D folks there. You’ll see people that are on the cutting edge of research in the sports realm. I think that’s what we’re going to see happen. I guess I’m betting on it.”

Come, Play & Stay in Orlando, FL

With so much to offer young, developing players – including the dormitories – the USTA National Campus could become something like its own version of the Nick Bollettieri Academy.

“Absolutely, it can be like that,” Christian said. “You could also see a lot of kids coming down for a week or two and staying there. One thing I really believe will happen, because it’s such a neat area, once people get to know it, I think a lot of people are just going to move there.”

If that starts happening, just imagine how much bigger a draw the Orlando area could become. And when Christian talks about people being convinced to move to the Orlando area, he isn’t just talking about the kids and their families.

“What about professional players?” he said. “At the end of the day, people need to live somewhere. If you’re on the professional tour, here’s an option now. You’ve got an airport five minutes away, a great, friendly area, and you have every court surface you’d probably ever want to train on.”

Outside of grass courts, which the USTA doesn’t consider to be a training surface given the short grass court season and the availability of warm-up tournaments prior to Wimbledon, there really isn’t anything the USTA National Campus won’t have.

Be it amateur or pro, it’s a dream facility.

For more information on USTA National Campus in Orlando, FL, visit http://www.florida.usta.com/.

This article appears in the January 2016 issue of i4 Business Magazine.
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i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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