Recently celebrating its 50th Anniversary, the Indianapolis Tennis and Education Foundation, Inc. (ITEF), formerly the Indianapolis Junior Tennis Development Fund, Inc., continues its focus of doing just that – developing junior tennis and all that it encompasses throughout the entire Indianapolis community.
The fund’s early roots began in 1969 when Barbara S. Wynne founded the Riverside Upswing Program. The inner-city program, housed at Riverside Park, was focused on bringing tennis to Indianapolis Youth. Six years later, in 1974, the program joined forces with Arthur Ashe and the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) to form the still active Indianapolis chapter of the organization.
IJTDF continued to offer new tennis opportunities from 1983 – 1992, hosting eleven Virginia Slims tournaments as a part of the Virginia Slims Circuit, which later became the basis for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour. The circuit fought to bring attention to the pay discrepancy between professional men and women players. These local tournaments offered the opportunity for native Hoosiers to compete professionally, including 1983 runner-up Ginny Purdy. Most recently, the WTA once again partnered with IJTDF as a 2019 Palooza sponsor. The Palooza (formerly “Court Party”) is the fund’s one-day carnival like event, aimed at introducing tennis to the community.
Also in the early 1980s, the foundation became active in the development of regional Junior Fed Cup, presenting local junior players the chance to play in this team-based competition. Still continuing today, players are selected within their USTA districts and compete against other teams within the Midwest Section.
In the late 1980s through the early 2000s, IJTDF partnered with the RCA Tennis Championships, later known as the Indianapolis Tennis Championship, in hosting their accompanying clinic for local under-served youth, offering the chance for these young players to be on court with top professionals.
With continued promotion of tennis education, IJTDF provides funding for various certifications and conferences, both to individuals and staffs. We have hosted USPTA education forum trainings, as well as CPR and AED certification courses. Nearly 200 teaching professionals have attended the USTA’s National Teachers’ Conference in New York and various spring conference locations.
Members of our IJTDF community volunteer to serve on the Arthur Ashe Essay Contest committee annually, promoting Ashe’s mission of education and character through the sport of tennis.
Since its inception, perhaps most importantly, the foundation works diligently to ensure the development of all players, regardless of their financial stability. By utilizing their scholarship fund, players who would otherwise be unable to participate, are afforded program scholarships. Most recently, is the creation of the Mel Patterson Opportunity Scholarship, for those players wishing to excel competitively, but who would otherwise be unable to fund the high-cost tournaments and travel. In addition, scholarships are awarded annually to a wide variety of players, ranging from Division-III collegiate players to at-risk youth selected from Township Elementary schools.
In 2020 the Indianapolis Junior Tennis Development Fund, Inc. changed it’s name to the Indianapolis Tennis and Education Foundation, Inc., choosing to highlight their focus of using tennis as a vehicle for education within the name of the organization. To learn more about the change, please click here.