#USOpenArtCourtsxChase is So. Much. More.

How can tennis benefit a community? It is the question The ACE Project has worked to understand since our launch in 2013. Through our after-school programs in Riverdale/Dolton and Baltimore, we have learned how the power of sport can be channeled toward improvements in the classroom and in social interactions; moreover, we discovered the importance of  engagingadults in tennis by recruiting parents, school staff, and community leaders as coaches and mentors. On June 30th, The ACE Project will take a significant step forward in answering this question as we partner with the United States Tennis Association (USTA), Chase, and the Riverdale Park District to unveil the renovated Art Courts at Ivanhoe Park in Riverdale. 

"These one-of-a-kind courts can be a spark to revitalize this amazing and resilient community," says Todd Carlson, USTA National Manager of Community Tennis Associations, Public Parks, and Facility Development. "I grew up playing tennis in the Chicago area and have a personal sense of connection. Who wouldn't want to play on these beautiful looking courts? We have seen in Miami that their program tripled within the first week after the grand opening." Todd has been working with the Riverdale Park District and M-C Sport System's, Inc. to oversee the reconstruction of these formerly run-down courts. Over the last 2 months, there has been an influx of activity at Ivanhoe Park as asphalt was overlaid on the courts; then, painting began as Justus Roe, local artist, created a visually-striking look that resonated with the south-suburban Chicago neighborhood. 

A community is driven forward when collaboration is a shared goal, and thanks to the combined efforts of our partners, the Art Courts initiative may be the crucial piece in creating safe, fun spaces for youth and families in Riverdale. "By this being a national initiative provided by the USTA Foundation and Chase, it gives the Riverdale Park District the opportunity to enhance the quality of life to youth, parents, and community by showcasing this great project for greater utilization within the community," says Kendall Parrott, Executive Director of the Riverdale Park District. "My vision is to continue in the direction of upgrading parks and facilities to be inclusive of the entire community." 

On Saturday, June 30th, children, local leaders, school administration and families will join together with representatives from the USTA and Chase to unveil the completed Art Courts. The event will feature music, giveaways, food, and tennis activities to engage guests of all ages in the game. This will include Matt Forte and Spice Adams, retired Bears players, who will be competing in the Ultimate US Open Sports Challenge. Be sure to follow their hilarious posts on Instagram leading up to the event! 

Reflecting on the opening question---how can tennis benefit a community?---we've already seen how the Art Courts project has sparked a renewed energy in Riverdale, and we are very excited to join together with the park district to continue building on this momentum. As Kendall states, "The ACE Project has been a catalyst and has demonstrated a true desire to invest valuable time, money, and resources into the Village of Riverdale. We have had discussions on other initiatives that will expand our collaboration and roles within Riverdale and throughout the Southland. We have only scratched the surface." We can't wait to help grow the game of tennis on these courts in the years to come! 

Interested in learning more? Then check out our profile on the US Open website by clicking here!