Who We Are
Finding Inspiration in Passing it Forward
After losing six Garber tennis courts to disrepair in 2010, and with the remaining six courts in need of replacement, it was finally time for a full rebuild of these historic tennis courts. This also coincided with a needed expansion by the Urban Racquet Sport Foundation to reach more Saginaw youth, and our desire for increased adult recreational opportunities. Years of dreams and careful planning culminated in a 2019 fundraising campaign. Despite the setbacks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, foundations, businesses and individuals helped us raise over $2 million dollars. Beginning in April '21 and finishing in September, the six-month replacement construction project included 8 world-class tennis courts, 8 world-class pickleball courts, and a clubhouse for carrying on our dream of reaching Saginaw youth.
Expand our summer camps to reach to more youth with, including collaborating with the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club
Develop tennis and pickleball learning camps for adults
Create tennis and pickleball leagues
Revive and host the historical state-wide amateur tournaments held here
Connect with local businesses and restaurants to promote local tourism
Establish USTA and USAPA sanctioned tournaments, including a professional tournament
Partner with the public school system with recess and after school programming
Provide the home court tennis facility for the newly established Saginaw Unified High School
Established in 1950, the original Garber Tennis Courts, named after their benefactor "Ike" Garber (pictured right) and his family, have been an integral part of downtown Saginaw for over 70 years. (For a more detailed history of Ike and Garber Courts, please click here)
Finding Inspiration in Every Youth
Our Organization and Mission
The Urban Racquet Sport Foundation (previously Urban Youth Tennis Foundation) is a charitable nonprofit organization that has reached thousands of at-risk youth, with an emphasis on under-served areas, since 2006. Through nationally-recognized instructional methods, gifted teachers, and a Safe Sport SafePlay certification, our mission is to use tennis and pickleball, as a tool to mentor youth in structured after-school and summer programs. Our goals include the following major aims: 1. teach quality character traits like honesty, integrity and inclusivity; 2. promote reading, nutrition, and a healthy life-long love of sport and exercise; 3. provide team-building and competitions for youth to expand their future educational opportunities; 4. provide love and encouragement through consistent role-models.
Why Tennis & Pickleball?
Lifetime sports that promote healthy exercise, helping to develop hand-eye coordination, balance and body coordination, speed, strength, flexibility and agility.
A professionally acknowledged vehicle for mentoring youth and develop skills like responsibility, self-confidence, anger management, sportsmanship, problem-solving, discipline and work ethic.
Youth who play tennis get better grades, have college aspirations, and are more community- minded (For more detailed data please see the USTA Foundation's Website)
Both tennis and pickleball are more inclusive of special populations than other sports.
"Our idea is to use tennis as a way to gain and hold the attention of young people in the inner cities so that we can teach them about matters more important than tennis. Through tennis, lives can be changed and spirits reclaimed."
-- Arthur Ashe, Days of Grace
Create safe, multi-use space for positive activity and engagement for the community.
Create economic impact by bringing back state-wide tournaments, sanctioned by United States Tennis Association (USTA) and USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).
Expand the existing efforts of youth recreation and character development programming by leveraging our history of community outreach.
Establish a home-court facility for a combined city high school tennis team.
Create an engaging social environment for adult activity.
These services are provided in various community and school locations, including operating and maintaining the Garber Courts facility under a long-term lease agreement with the City of Saginaw, in an exemplary nonprofit/municipal mutually-beneficial relationship. Additionally, the Foundation provides recreational and teaching opportunities for the adult community, including leagues, tournaments, and special events.
We collaborate with the YMCA, Saginaw Public Schools, First Ward Community Center, Cathedral District Youth Center, Rock the Schools, Boys & Girls Club, United Way, Youth First Program and numerous local community recreation centers.
For a glimpse of our vision read this USTA interview with one of our founders, Pharrington Douglas
Character Qualities Taught and Exemplified
(Here are just 5 samples. For our full list of 49 qualities, click here)
1. Alertness vs. Unawareness:
Being aware of that which is taking place around me so that I can have the right responses.
2. Attentiveness vs. Concern:
Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions.
3. Availability vs. Self-Centeredness:
Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I am serving.
4. Boldness vs. Fearfulness:
Confidence that what I have to say or do is true, right and just.
5. Cautiousness vs. Rashness:
Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions.
Click here for a local interview with our founders Ken LeCureux and Pharrington Douglas
Finding Inspiration in Every Swing
8 (4 lighted) handicap-accessible, tournament level tennis courts, including a separate championship court
8 (5 lighted) handicap-accessible, tournament level pickleball courts
Multi-use clubhouse with bathrooms, pro shop, large classroom and nearby picnic/gathering/chess areas