USTA Northern announced this week that it has adopted an anti-bullying policy:
"USTA Northern supports an environment for participation in tennis conducive to the enjoyment of the sport that is free from threats, harassment and any type of bullying behavior."
USTA Northern goes on to detail a disciplinary action continuum for players, coaches, volunteers, parents and spectators who violate the policy. You can read more here.
It should go without saying, but we at The Fort are 100% behind the implementation of this policy. We're dedicated to harnessing tennis to create positive, life-changing experiences for our players--regardless of their age, ability, race, gender or socio-economic backgrounds. The tennis court can be a site of impactful personal growth, as our founding benefactor Fred Wells discovered when he started playing in his retirement. When players, parents, coaches or anybody else instead use it as a platform for harassment and bullying, they are violating the very spirit of the sport.
Tennis is sustained by the sportsman-(and woman)-ship shown on and off court every day, at every level, from junior beginners to recreational senior players to the televised elite (remember when Nadal overruled a bad line call and gave Andy Murray a game at the French Open in 2011?) It's a point of pride among many in the tennis community; it's one thing that sets tennis apart. Here at The Fort we're (maybe-too)-ecstatically proud every time one of our players brings home a sportsmanship award. Tennis may be an individual sport much of the time, but everyone who plays is part of a larger community--one that we at The Fort strive to make supportive, inclusive and all-embracing.
USTA Northern's new policy is a great reminder to respect and value each other, the game, and the larger tennis community that we're all a part of! And if you do see something (whether it's at The Fort or not), don't be afraid to speak up; please feel free to come to us or contact USTA Northern.