A 57-year old tennis tradition is continuing in Philadelphia this winter, and it’s giving local players and club owners alike something to smile about.
Gold Cup, a junior tennis program that takes place in the Philadelphia Area Tennis District (PATD), began in 1958 and is once again underway in Middle States. Gold Cup is PATD’s exclusive discount junior tennis program, serving intermediate and advanced level junior athletes from the area. The program’s purpose is to prepare young athletes for high school tennis and tournament level play — even during the cold, Philadelphia winters.
For a little more than $150, Gold Cup players receive 10 weeks of lessons, a junior USTA membership, a tee shirt and an opportunity to compete in a season-ending Gold Cup tournament.
Justin DePietropaolo, who has been a PATD board member and stayed heavily involved with tennis in Philadelphia since his childhood, said Gold Cup is a great opportunity for juniors to get top-notch instruction and stay fresh at a time of the year when court time is generally tough to come by. It’s also a hit with the clubs involved, as local facilities fill their off-peak court time and gain exposure in the community.
“I actually played in Gold Cup for a season when I was in high school,” DePietropaolo said. “What I’ve seen now is the other side of it, too. Usually clubs won’t have programs in those off-peak hours and can’t fill the courts. This helps them out. It helps both sides.”
Gold Cup first began years ago when Bob Strimel, Sr., a local tennis advocate, wanted to provide an opportunity for kids in the area to stay involved during the winter months. His hope was that the kids would keep up with those from warm-weather states who play outdoor tennis year-round. It quickly became a hit and even acted as a stepping stone for kids to reach the next level, with hundreds of kids registering each year. This year, Gold Cup programs began in early January and are running at more than a dozen area clubs into March.
“It’s a great supplement for these kids when they prepare for their high school seasons or tournaments,” DePietropaolo added. “It’s great prep for the high school kids and has been for so many years.”
DePietropaolo continued by saying the program has been so strong, nearly all of it’s publicity and promotion has come from word-of-mouth. There is also a logo designing contest involved, which picks up plenty of interest and sees a number of submissions each year.
“Players let the other players know when it’s a good experience, and it has been,” he said. “The parents get involved and Junior Team Tennis players talk a lot about it. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve and get even bigger in the years to come.”
While many sessions are already booked, additional info is still available.