With the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Open this year, the USTA aims to bring tennis to inner city kids in a unique and colorful fashion, supporting National Junior Tennis Leagues (NJTL) in metropolitan cities across America. To celebrate its 50th year, USTA is joining with Chase Bank to debut five art-inspired courts from Florida to California. At Harvard Park in Los Angeles, the #USOpenArtCourtsXChase debuted underneath the active feet of players from the Pete Brown Junior Tennis and Education Program.
“I think it’s big for the community,” according to Marty Woods, the face of Pete Brown Junior Tennis and chairman of the Pete Brown Scholarship Fund for over a decade. “We actually have something that these kids are excited about. They come out here, they see these bright courts, they see the paint, and they want to be a part of it. They want to play on it. So what does that do? It gives us participation.”
The kaleidoscope of courts, a part of the Harvard Park Recreation complex, were painted by local artist Charlie Edmiston and his team. Edmiston, like most people, was a stranger to utilizing tennis courts as a canvas.
“I’m an abstract artist,” Edmiston says. “I have to use shapes and colors, the visual language, to tell a story. I often hide words or secret messages in my work. I think this project is a cool opportunity to hide some sort of inspiring or positive message within the artwork on the court.”
Local players are sure to be inspired by the project, a sweeping array of color reminiscent of World Team Tennis surfaces, both bathed in powerful shades of red, green, and blue. Unlike the WTT courts, Edmiston’s art stretches across all four courts to create one giant canvas.
“I have to make sure, from an aerial view, that all the courts look cohesive,” he said. “So, really, I guess the challenge… has been to figure out the design and carry it out over all the courts.”
The facility, which follows Miami as the second of five US Open Art Courts (Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York will follow), will be the centerpiece location for Pete Brown Junior Tennis, one of many Southern California NJTL chapters to reach inner city, underprivileged youth.
“It gives them a sport that lasts a lifetime,” Woods says of the game. “After tennis they can go to other communities, that can get an education, they can get a job. They can do anything they want. We want these kids to think big, to go outside the box, and think outside the box.
“This is out of the box stuff.”