David Porter picked up an old wooden racquet at a flea market, rode his bike to his local public tennis courts, and began his tennis journey at age 14. He didn’t know it at the time, but that small decision shaped his life path, and he has never looked back.
Porter is now part-owner and tennis director of the Jonesville Tennis Center in Florida, as well as the boys’ high school tennis coach at Gainesville High School.
“I approached Alachua County with $300,000 of my own money and $250,000 in raised funds and they put in the rest,” Porter said. “We opened the 14 public clay court facility in April of 2009, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Alachua County initially planned to construct a large recreational facility that would include tennis courts, an aquatic center, a soccer field, and more. However, the plan fell through during the recession in 2008.
That’s when Porter approached Alachua County with funding and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Porter agreed to take on facility management, as well as facility maintenance and lighting costs.
As any successful business owner, Porter consistently sought new ways to boost income. Recently, Porter became a UTR Sports Team League Manager, running one of the most successful junior team leagues in the country.
“We introduced junior leagues this past summer, we got about 40-50 kids,” Porter said. “I thought we’d offer it in the fall and get a lot of the high school kids that don’t get a lot of match play throughout the year. We have about 70 kids this time around.”
UTR Sports Junior Team Tennis is an innovative format for players to play on a team. Players enjoy level-based play in a team format across multiple seasons throughout the year, with matches counting towards Verified UTR Ratings.
Porter is now thinking bigger and hopes to rally other tennis directors in neighboring Florida counties to start Junior Team Tennis programs. Doing so would establish a sectional and regional championship environment for the players to enjoy while adding value to the director's tennis programming.
“Running UTR leagues helps kids who are already taking lessons to find more match play,” Porter said.
Porter also runs a UTR Sports Tennis Adult League for the higher-rated local players who lack local leagues to participate in.