UWF tennis coach wins national award
University of West Florida tennis coach Derrick Racine has received the USTA/ITA Campus QuickStart Provider of the Year Award. This national award recognizes NCAA coaches who help promote tennis education for children under the age of ten.
This is the first year that the United States Tennis Association has given this national award, and Racine is proud to receive it on UWF’s behalf.
“We believe that this showcases UWF’s commitment to its community,” said Racine. “It’s as great for the university as it is for the surrounding area.”
The award winner of the award is chosen from a list of 17 sectional winners, including Harvard University, and is open to all Division I, II and III levels.
The Quick Start program is part of an initiative for colleges to introduce children to tennis on their campuses. It involves smaller courts and rackets, lighter balls, etc., all designed to help children get acclimated to the sport before graduating to regulation size equipment.
Racine and his coaching partner, Rick Davis, have been helping increase community involvement and raise awareness for this program for quite some time now, and they have designed a similar program for local elementary schools.
“We’ve been trying to get the community involved as a way to get younger kids involved,” said Racine. “We want to inspire kids to be future athletes. This is just the beginning.”
Racine hopes the award raises awareness about the campus and the program, as well as the various community tennis clubs.
“It’s all about trying to get [the kids] involved in tennis,” said Racine, “but we also use this format to attract kids to college campuses and highlight our community involvement. Our goal is to win matches, but an offshoot of that is to give something great back to the community.”
The program works in conjunction with UWF’s Junior Argos, whose age groups include 5 to 6 year olds, 7 to 8 year olds and 9 to 10 year olds. Five years ago, this program won the USTA Community Involvement Award. Davis, who has been involved in the program for 15 years, said that he finds a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction in it.
“It’s a great program,” Davis said. “The kids seem to love it. You can visualize them at 16 being a great student, wanting to go play.”
Racine will be presented with the award in Naples, Fla., on Dec. 18.
“I’m very excited to go down and represent the college and share this award with all of my colleagues,” said Racine.