By Rita Maloof, ALTA Foundation President
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” –Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn could have been talking about ALTA. With a primary function of scheduling league play for adult teams and junior teams in the five-county metro area, ALTA’s secondary function — through the ALTA Foundation — is to serve the community. Since 1986, the foundation has been promoting health, character, sportsmanship, and responsible citizenship by using the game of tennis to support, not only amateur tennis athletes, but programs for the disadvantaged, the physically and mentally challenged, and to provide new opportunities for under-served youth and other tennis programs.
More than $115,000 in grants and scholarships were awarded by the foundation in 2023. Special Olympics Georgia, Special Pops Tennis, Blaze Sports, Tennis People, AYTEF, Cobb CTS, Rising Stars Tennis Association, and Get A Grip Tennis Association were all welcomed back and supported with grants. The Dunwoody Country Club Special Olympics Day and the American Wheelchair Championships returned for the first time since COVID.
Extending our hand further, we were thrilled to announce a partnership with another Atlanta icon, the Shepherd Center. ALTA is now a sponsor of the Shepherd Center Recreational Therapy Rehabilitative Tennis Clinics offered to all Shepherd Center patients. We also welcomed Above the Net, Inc., Smoke Rise Country Club’s Racquet Rally, and Center for Movement Challenges to the foundation’s community.
The Foundation START (Support for Teaching Recreational Tennis) Program for Title I high school continues to branch out. After a successful pilot of two schools in 2020, the program, which provides funds for coaching, equipment, and uniforms, now boasts 10 schools in metro Atlanta and is one of our fastest growing, most impactful ventures.
Nine, $2,500-scholarships were awarded through the L. Keith Wood Scholarship program. Included in these awards was our first adaptive athlete scholar winner. This recipient came to us first as part of the Blaze Sports Youth Wheelchair program and then joined the ALTA wheelchair league when she was of age. Thanks in large part to generous donations from the Wood family, more than $140,000 has been awarded from the ALTA Foundation to outstanding high-school seniors over the past seven years.
As you can see, Audrey Hepburn would be proud. The second hand of ALTA, the ALTA Foundation, has been busy helping others — building stronger tennis (and now pickleball) communities throughout Atlanta.
In conclusion, I have had the pleasure to serve as ALTA Foundation President for the past two years. It’s been an amazing journey and one I’ll never forget. I couldn’t have done this alone. Thank you, Cameron Turner, Foundation secretary; and Larry Waters, ALTA and Foundation treasurer, for your time, effort, and dedication to the foundation. We made a pretty good team!
I’d also like to thank the ALTA Board of Directors for their trust and support as we brought the foundation back from COVID to where we are today. In two years, we funneled more than $200,000 in grants and scholarships back into the community. Additionally, I’d like to give a shout out to ALTA Director of Marketing, Emmy Powell, and our friends at Net News for helping the foundation update its brand and community exposure during this time. With the growth of our partner programs, we have increased our media footprint from one article in two issues of the magazine to two pages of coverage in every edition along with an active social media presence. Lastly and most importantly, thank you to our ALTA membership. Without you and your passion for the sport of tennis, there would be no ALTA Foundation, a true helping hand.
Lifting A Community: Above The Net, Inc.
ALTA Foundation is thrilled to announce the award of a 2023 grant to a first-time partner that continues to lift its community, Above the Net, Inc.
Henry County lacked a tennis program in most middle schools and as a result students would begin participating in other sports at that grade level. In turn, high school tennis programs began to falter. In 2021, Caniece Haywood, Brenda Gant, and Monica Johnson, three avid ALTA tennis players in Henry County, were determined to do something about it.
With an underutilized resource of tennis courts at Richard Craig Park and the local high school and middle school ranking in the bottom 25 percent of schools in the state, the founders decided to create Above the Net, Inc., a non-profit all about growing youth participation in tennis and leveraging that sport for college scholarships, strengthening communities, and building life skills.
Sharing a vision that mirrors ALTA Foundation’s mission of “Building Stronger Communities,” a partnership between Above the Net, Inc. and the ALTA Foundation was inevitable. More than 350 adults and children (90 percent) in Henry County have already been introduced to tennis through programs offered by Above the Net, Inc. “We are a certified NJTL organization, we have an apprentice program that meets weekly at Richard Craig Park, and we also teach tennis at the Shaquille O’Neal Boys & Girls Club,” says Haywood. “The grant from ALTA Foundation will allow some of the more interested and advanced kids at the Boys & Girls Club, as well as some of the general Henry County community, to participate in our Elite program which meets three days a week to accelerate their progress. Many kids that started with us just two years ago in the Elite group have made their high school tennis teams and/or are actively competing in tournaments.”
This year-round program, combined with the determination of the company founders, is guaranteed to lift deserving athletes, Above the Net. For more information on Above the Net, Inc. please visit abovethenettennis.org.
Focused on building stronger communities, the foundation supports the growth of tennis in underserved populations in the Atlanta area. The generosity of our ALTA members makes it all possible. All donations are appreciated and can be made online on the ALTA website at the time of membership renewal, by scanning the QR code below, or by mail to the ALTA office. For inquiries on stock gifts, in memorandum gifts, or establishing a scholarship, contact Rita Maloof, 2023 ALTA Foundation president at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770.399.5788 ext. 126.