Each May, Hempfield Area Recreation Commission hosts one of the most popular and successful USTA Pro Circuit events in the country. A player-favorite, the tournament is popular in the community and showcases Hempfield Rec., the surrounding area, and all it has to offer.
For anyone attending the tournament for the first time, it’s obvious that there is much more to do at Hempfield Rec. than simply watch.
A multi-purpose facility offering levels of tennis and play opportunities for all ages and skill levels – from 10 and Under Tennis to pro – Hempfield Rec. is one of the 2013 USTA Middle States Premier Facilities. With its 10 outdoor courts and six indoor courts, swimming pool, full-sized gym, basketball courts and more onsite, the facility features something for every individual and every family.
From a tennis perspective, Director of Tennis Wilson Pipkin always has the courts loaded with action, especially during the spring and summer months, when USTA League Tennis is going at full speed.
“This summer we have 75 USTA league teams playing out of our facility,” said Pipkin, who is serving his 28th year at Hempfield. “With all of our programs and options, scheduling our courts is like a jigsaw puzzle. But we offer the programs that people want, and the demand has grown with us.”
“If someone comes in and says they want to play tennis, we get them on a team or create one for them,” he added. “We’re not going to turn anyone away from our sport.”
From June 7-9, Hempfield Rec. hosted Middle States’ USTA League Tennis Mixed Section Championships. Each year it also hosts district playoffs for USTA League Tennis.
With one of the most popular programs at Hempfield Rec. being USTA League Tennis, Pipkin and his staff also offer numerous camps, clinics and other options for junior tennis players. This reached a new level a few years ago, when Pipkin brought in a Director of Juniors, Jon Bair, who quickly began getting juniors on board by expanding the available programming.
An example of that expansion is with Hempfield Rec’s summer camps program, which runs for six weeks at four sites for youth ages 6-15. The program, which runs in conjunction with the USTA as a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter, started last year and continues to pick up interest as players in the area learn more about it.
Helping to create even more buzz for junior players in the area, Hempfield Rec. has hosted Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) District Championships each July for the past several years, and is now picking up the pace by helping to grow 10 and Under Tennis. Every other Sunday during the summer, Hempfield Rec. hosts a Play Day, introducing more kids to the game at a young age. The facility also hosts 10 and Under clinics once per week.
“We’ve seen the growth in junior players double in the past year,” Pipkin said. “We always relied on adult programming being strong, and now it’s nice to have something so strong for the juniors.”
Hempfield Rec. will be in the pro tennis spotlight again later this summer when it hosts the $25,000 Koser Jeweler Tennis Challenge, Hempfield’s biggest USTA Pro Circuit event to date. Beginning Aug. 5, some of the top up-and-coming pros from around the world will take to the Hempfield Rec. courts, hoping to earn valuable ranking points and get a good week of practice in before heading to the US Open almost immediately after.
Along with being a great experience for the players, Pipkin said it’s an opportunity for Hempfield Rec. to experience a higher-level pro event than what has been hosted in the past.
“We’re really excited for the tournament,” Pipkin said. “This will give us a great chance to see how a bigger event runs, and get that experience. Being that it leads right into the US Open, players can stay on the east coast, hop on a train after their final match and be in New York in just a couple of hours. It should be a great week.”