On behalf of the Florence Tennis Association and the Florence tennis community, I would like thank the city of Florence and its Athletics and Sports Tourism Department for doing such a great job of maintaining our local public courts.
They just resurfaced the 24 hard courts at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center, and the six clay courts are always in excellent condition. They have also begun the resurfacing of the 11 courts at Timrod Park and those of several smaller venues. The contractors are doing first-rate work, and the courts will all look like new when they are done.
By providing such exceptionally fine facilities, the city makes it possible for the tennis center staff and the Florence Tennis Association to bring dozens of important events, including statewide league tournaments, college and high school tournaments and the annual McLeod for Health professional tournament to Florence.
Together, these events draw thousands of participants and spectators each year and bring millions of dollars in tourism revenue into our community. They have also put our city on the national tennis map. When I go to national, sectional and state tennis association meetings, people always want to talk about the growth of tennis in Florence and the public-private collaboration that gave us our state-of-the-art tennis center.
Of course, we also use these sites for adult and junior leagues, clinics for beginners and more advanced players, and recreational events of all sorts. Right now, this is vital, because tennis is on a roll. According to the 2020 Participation Report of the Physical Activity Council, which reviewed 120 different sports and physical activities, U.S. tennis exploded last year. Overall participation increased by 22% to nearly 22 million people. During a year when other sports were put on hold, people hit the courts in record numbers because tennis is an outdoor activity with built-in social distancing.