History of the North Country Tennis Association (NCTA)
The NCTA was established by a group of tennis players who has been working since July 2013 to promote tennis in the greater Watertown area. In August 2013, the group identified two goals: the long-term goal has been to build a two-court indoor facility in Watertown to be used primarily for youth instructional tennis but additionally for community recreational tennis; and, the short-term goal was to operate a one-court recreational indoor tennis facility with the purpose of maintaining active tennis play and assessing community interest in tennis.
The NCTA was initially established with a board of directors as a 501c7 entity and successfully became a 501c3 in the fall of 2017. At present, the board continues to explore: building a two-court indoor tennis facility; developing a successful capital campaign; pursuing possible local partnerships, especially with the Watertown YMCA; and, adding tennis instruction at an indoor facility.
The NCTA board had actively operated a one-court indoor tennis facility, located in a warehouse in the Jefferson County Industrial Park for four years. This short term goal lasted 4 years and was only a temporary situation until a more permanent facility could be erected. Due to unmanageable expenses and lack of a regulation size building, the indoor tennis facility was closed as of November 28th 2017.
Another opportunity for the NCTA arose with a program called pop tennis. This innovative program was introduced by the partnership of the NCTA and the YMCA to keep existing tennis players active and to bring non tennis players from the community into the game of tennis. The program takes place in the gymnasium of the Watertown Fairgrounds YMCA.
The NCTA runs the following programs:
1. Youth Tennis Festival – A partnership with YMCA and NCTA, volunteers run the program. A USTA representative is present and aides with the program. It is a free event for youths from Watertown and surrounding communities. No tennis experience necessary to participate. This is a yearly program usually held in May and has been run for the last three years.
2. Summer Tennis – Started in 2016, this program is free to the public from the end of June till the end of August. Anyone who can serve and volley can just show up with a tennis racquet and play. A NCTA representative places players according to skill level in a friendly, social game of tennis. A USPTA Certified Pro Instructor voluntarily runs the program. The program is Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 pm.
3. City of Watertown Tennis Tournament – Revived in 2013, this tournament is sponsored by the City of Watertown Parks and Recreation and the NCTA. The tournament is held at the Watertown High School tennis courts. It was originally held the last weekend in August, but will now be the second weekend in September. There is no fee for this tournament. Last year a new junior division was added.
4. Pop Tennis – A game developed by the USTA and innovatively formatted for a gymnasium by the NCTA. It is partially funded by the NCTA through grant money from the USTA for developmental programs. Pop tennis is played on a 60 foot court with paddles and low compression green dot balls. The scoring is the same but with an underhand serve and no second serve. Easily played by seasoned players, but also easy for new players to play. The program began December 2017, and continues to grow. It is held on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 9pm and Thursdays during the day till 2pm.
5. Future Programming – The YMCA is planning to build an Aquatic Community Center in downtown Watertown that will have two pools, two indoor tennis courts and a track. This was one of NCTA’s goals, two indoor tennis courts. Ground breaking will begin July 2021 and completion in July 2022. NCTA plans to keep running programs through the summer months and maybe a few indoor as well to keep growing tennis in our community.