At the Annual USTA Eastern Conference in White Plains, N.Y., many new faces on the Board of Directors were ushered in for the various regions that comprise the Eastern Section. In the Long Island Region, there is a new Board of Directors and it will be led by its new president, Jonathan Klee.
“The Conference was very educational and we were able to participate in a number of different meetings to receive the strategic plan that USTA Eastern has for all the regions,” said Klee. “I had met a number of the Board Members at prior Sectional and National functions before, but there are a lot of new presidents. Out of the six Regions, there are five new Presidents. It’s an enthusiastic group with a lot of new ideas.”
Klee grew up in Oceanside, N.Y. and has been part of the Long Island tennis community for most of his life. He admits he wasn’t a major junior player growing up, but he did play on Oceanside High School’s Varsity Tennis team earning All-Conference honors before heading to George Washington University, where he walked on to the school’s tennis team and played as a freshman.
His time at George Washington was just about the only time he spent away from the local tennis community, returning to Long Island to go to law school at Hofstra, and then living and working on Long Island where he now resides in Sands Point. He has been active in a number of different aspects of tennis on Long Island, whether it would be volunteering, running events or participating in them.
“I’ve kind of done this backwards,” Klee said of his path to becoming head of the Long Island Region. “Most start by volunteering locally at the grassroots level, and then work their way up to the Sectional Level and then on to Nationals. In my case, I really started out at the Sectional Level and then jumped to some National positions, and now coming full circle to return to the Long Island Region. I think it gives me an interesting perspective, having seen what goes on at the National Level and trying to bring that knowledge to Long Island.”
One of the major challenges that Klee wants to take on, and do so right away, is opening the lines of communication, not only between the Section and the Region, but also the Region and its constituents.
“I want the Long Island Board to better communicate with the community at large, ranging from adults to juniors, from tournaments to leagues, from community events to school programs, etc. Many people know about the Long Island Board because of our Annual Awards Dinner, but most people do not know about all of the wonderful programs our volunteers help set up, organize and participate in,” said Klee. “Being able to connect all that into one uniform board will allow us to relay our needs and goals back to the Eastern section and then out to the community at large. If we can accomplish that, then we’ll be successful. I think Long Island Tennis Magazine is a great conduit for us to communicate to the public what programming and grants are available, and how to get involved in being a part of the Long Island tennis community.”
USTA Eastern has many grants available for a variety of different programs and community-oriented events, which Klee wants to make sure that Long Island is aware of and takes advantage of to grow the sport at the grassroots level.
A major aspect of the USTA Eastern strategic plan is its emphasis on the youth, continuing to build upon its 10U programming, in-school and after-school programs. Klee said it is a goal to begin implementing these programs and expand upon them in the next years, growing the outreach into schools and into the community.
“We want to really grow the grassroots tennis on Long Island, while expanding on the programs we already have in place,” said Klee. “We want to make everybody fully aware of what USTA Long Island has to offer, whether it is grassroots, tennis in schools, after-school programs, junior tournaments or adult leagues. There is a different aspect of tennis in everybody’s life. Being able to communicate to the community all the programming that we have available to offer them is probably the major goal that we are trying to accomplish.”
As the spring and summer approach, there will be a lot going on in the Long Island tennis community as Jonathan Klee and the rest of the USTA Board continue to expand and grow the game in the LI Region.