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March 19, 2003

Tom Fetzer


BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for attending. We have a very special announcement, something I'm very proud of. We are entering a special partnership, one that I'm extremely proud of. We're bringing together today the ATP, the WTA, the Red Cross and the United States Tennis Association. To tell you a little bit more about the First Serve piece of this, I'd like to introduce to you Tom Fetzer, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Community Tennis for the United States Tennis Association.

TOM FETZER: Well, I'm frequently asked, "What is First Serve?" The answer lies with Butch Buchholz. This is a guy who grew up in an inner-city public park and became the best player in America, fifth ranked player in the world (applause). Some of you may know that the USTA recently elevated multicultural participation to a level one strategic priority. Butch Buchholz and his dad lived multicultural participation a half a century ago in St. Louis. Butch played in some tournaments where he was the minority, the only white kid in the draw. Later, when Arthur Ashe was developing as a player in Richmond, and because of the prevailing racial environment in his hometown couldn't find adequate competition, he came to St. Louis to play in Mr. Buchholz's park. So First Serve is Butch Buchholz's effort to create opportunities for inner-city kids to have the same life that he and Arthur Ashe had. It's not necessarily about identifying and grooming the next champion, but it is about making sure that every kid in America that has the desire to be a champion gets that chance. Having said that, it's not about just tennis; it's a lot more than tennis. It is going into neighborhoods where kids live, investing in public parks like the one that Mr. Buchholz ran so that kids have a safe place to go after school where they can do their homework, use a computer, develop a relationship with an adult mentor, get a nutritional snack, and learn the game of tennis. We want to introduce them to tennis not just because it's our job and our mission, but because we believe the game will profoundly change their lives. Johns Hopkins University recently released a study tracking a thousand athletes in various sports since 1946 and determined that tennis was the healthiest sport. Tennis provides a life-long lifetime of networking socially and corporately that other sports don't have, and tennis players play their sport longer than any other sport. So our message to inner-city moms and dads is have your kids sign up for all those other sports, but they'll be playing tennis long after they put the baseball glove and the football and the basketball in the closet. Tomorrow the USTA will be releasing a survey, a national tennis participation survey, that will show, among other things, that one out of every three people who take up tennis this year as a new player will be African-American or Hispanic. Thanks to the sterling example of James Blake and Venus and Serena Williams and others, thousands of kids across this country are awakening to the opportunities inherent in tennis for the very first time, and we want to be there for them. We want to make sure that they have the opportunity to play tennis; and, more importantly, we want to make sure that they have the resources they need to be successful in life. Now, speaking of somebody who's been successful in life, I'm quite sure that when Alan Schwartz came back to Chicago after captaining the Yale tennis team, and Harvard Business School, he didn't settle upon building indoor tennis facilities in downtown cities as the easiest way to be successful. He chose that vocation because he loved the game of tennis. In so doing, he built the largest tennis corporation in the world, Tennis Corporations of America, which is the largest owner and operator of tennis clubs in the world. Not many people have the guts and the hutzpah and the luck to take something they love and build a successful business out of it, and he did that. His life has been a testimony to his long-time love affair with two things: His wife, Ronnie, and the game of tennis. And while he was becoming a titan in the tennis industry, he took time every year, 20 or 34 years, to go into inner-city public parks in Chicago and teach kids how to play tennis, teach them that great Alan Schwartz forehand. He doesn't move as well as he used to, he has a fused ankle and a knee that's had some surgery, but don't hit it to his forehand (smiling). Without any further ado, please welcome the President of the United States Tennis Association, Alan Schwartz.

ALAN SCHWARTZ: Thanks very much, Tom. I think based on an over-30-year association with the Buchholz family, I can clearly endorse the kind things you said about Butch, and also knowing his dad, who influenced Butch with the values that Butch has carried on so strongly, and his brother Cliff. It's just a pleasure to be on this podium. From the USTA points of view, there are really three reasons and one action step that I think make sense for First Serve to be something that we endorse in our line. First of all, community tennis is our number one priority. Clearly, First Serve in the parks, that's where the courts are, that's where the folks are, that's community tennis. Secondly, multicultural participation and diversity have become a new level one priority as of last year. This fits hand-in-glove with the idea of reaching people of color, Hispanics, Asians - anybody - in the parks, as well as Caucasians. The parks are where the courts are. The parks are where the action should be. First Serve is focused in that area, especially those areas that don't usually have the kinds of facilities both academic- and court-wise that First Serve has demonstrated in, I guess, 14 sites. Third, the United States Tennis and Education Foundation by its very name tells you that it believes in the combination of tennis and education. Tennis in a way is the hook; an hour on the computer, an hour on the courts. This is exactly what First Serve does, it combines those two. So if we are, indeed, aligned on three levels - and we are - then we need to back that up, back the talk up with some resources and commitments. I'm here to tell you that the USTA will back up First Serve with resources, commitments particularly in taking the Florida example and spreading it beyond the Florida borders. So we're enthusiastic about this. We're in great hands with Butch. And, Tom, you have played a significant role as the head of community tennis in getting us involved in First Serve. We thank you for it, and I have a feeling you're going to be even more involved as time goes on.

BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: Thank you, Alan. Well, you need a strong partnership and a strong partner. We went to the Red Cross. To speak for the Red Cross is Gloria Danovitz.

GLORIA DANOVITZ: The Red Cross of Greater Miami and the Keys is thrilled to be in partnership with this event with First Serve. It's a wonderful organization. The Red Cross is doing everything that it can to keep our community safe so that the children of First Serve can learn to play tennis in a safe community. We are just so happy to be a part of this. We're looking forward to a wonderful event next year.

BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: The real power and the attraction are the players. What we're going to do on March 22nd, we'll be telling you about the entertainment, we'll be telling you about the venue, but I am so happy and so thrilled we have two co-chairs for this sponsor in Anna Kournikova and James Blake. The fact that we'll be able to put the awards dinner together along with the entertainment, it should be a formula for raising some money for First Serve in Florida and for the Red Cross. James, you want to just...

JAMES BLAKE: Sure. I'm very happy to be a part of this. I'm glad Butch has given me the opportunity. A program like this means so much to me. I grew up in a program very similar in the Harlem Junior Tennis Program. I was given the opportunity to go on and do some things that are very special to me - playing at Harvard University and being on the pro tour, which I never dreamed of, being in a program like this. Hopefully, there are going to be some kids benefitting the same way I did, and possibly even better from these situations. I'm so happy Butch put this together and cares so much about it, with the help of Alan and the USTA. It's a very meaningful situation for me and, obviously, for them. I'm thrilled to be a part of it. I'm sure next year this function is going to be extremely exciting and even more fun with the entertainment that they have planned. Giving out the ATP and WTA awards combined is going to be a lot of fun. It's always exciting when we combine the best tennis in the men's and women's side, have award presentations where the ATP, we vote on the awards. So it's meaningful to us, because it's who the players choose as the best, you know, Player-of-the-Year, Comeback Player-of-the-Year, Most Improved Player, Newcomer of the Year, and the Sportsmanship Award, as well as the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. It's a pretty meaningful event for the ATP, and I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a great night next year, and it takes great leaders to organize this. We thank Butch for doing it (applause). Thanks (smiling). I was cheating.

BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: He's got a career after tennis. I'd like to introduce Judy Zieter (phonetic spelling), who is going to represent the Greater Miami Tennis Foundation, who is going to be operating the Ashe-Buchholz Tennis Center, one of the co-chairs and community leaders here in helping us raise money for this. Anna was at Moore Park yesterday. I know that she has been there several times. We appreciate that. The kids are always happy to see top female stars and male stars. We appreciate your efforts.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Thanks. It was great. Me living here in Miami, it's always great to go to Moore Park. I had a lot of -- a fun time there yesterday. I'm just really excited about being a part of this great project and this First Serve program and Red Cross. Hopefully, it can help a lot of kids. I was always very excited when I had opportunities back home in Russia when I was very, very little, and it meant a lot to me. I just really love and enjoy spending time with kids, so hopefully they will all grow and enjoy and one day wake up and think that they had fun and enjoyed their time. I'm especially really proud that it's tennis (applause).

BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: I think we have a very strong, powerful partnership with the USTA, the Greater Miami Tennis Foundation, the ATP, the WTA, the Red Cross, and our two co-chairs for the concert. It's going to be March 22nd - Monday night, March 22nd. Save the date, all that stuff will come out. We'll have more announcements on the venue and entertainment. We're excited about the potential for entertainment, and we'll keep you posted.

End of FastScripts….

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