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HOMETOWN HERO JACK SOCK RETURNS TO LINCOLN TO JOIN AMERICAN EXPRESS AND USTA FOR REFURBISHMENT OF IRVINGDALE PARK COMMUNITY TENNIS COURTS

Jack Sock Helped Select The Local Courts He Is Passionate About For The Project In Lincoln, NE

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This morning Thursday, August 8, tennis professional Jack Sock, joined American Express and the USTA to break ground at Irvingdale Park where three tennis courts will be refurbished as part of the Fresh Courts program, a community funding effort in which American Express, in partnership with the USTA, invests in developing new generations of tennis fans, players and champions by renovating existing tennis facilities in communities across the country.

At 10am, the ground-breaking ceremony kicked off with remarks from USTA Missouri Valley Executive Director, Mary Buschmann, Mayor of Lincoln, NE Chris Beutler, tennis professional Jack Sock, Corporate Affairs manager at American Express, Ashley Tufts and Fresh Courts Community Award recipient Kevin Heim.

For the first time, American Express and the USTA collaborated with its player partners to identify community tennis courts that they would like to see refurbished. Sock chose the Lincoln, NE community courts because of the support that his hometown has given him throughout his career. Sock now hopes to begin to return the favor.

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Speaking about the way that Sock has inspired young people all across America (but especially in the Lincoln area) to develop a passion for tennis, Mayor Beutler included a bit of humor. He mentioned that his Chief of Staff’s son nearly quit tennis as a 5th grader after a 3rd grade Jack Sock “destroyed” him on the court.

“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to give back to my hometown. Lincoln is where I got my start in tennis and now with the support of the Fresh Courts project I’m hoping to give more Lincoln kids out there a chance to play tennis,” said Jack Sock to the Lincoln, NE community during the ceremony.

American Express and the USTA honored local community member Kevin Heim during the ceremony with the Fresh Courts Community Tennis Award, recognizing his tireless efforts to grow the local tennis community and support youth players. Since first joining the Woods Tennis Center in Lincoln in 2008, Kevin has served as both the Head Pro and General Manager. During his time there, the center has increased junior lesson and tournament participation significantly with the program growing from 36 participants in 2008 to over 1,100 juniors in 2012. Kevin is the President-Elect of the Nebraska Tennis Association and chairs the Collegiate Committee. He also chairs the Youth Pathway committee for the Missouri Valley Tennis Association.

After the ceremony, American Express and the USTA planted the first shovel to refurbish and expand the community’s three existing 78′ concrete tennis courts to create two acrylic 78’ tennis courts with 36’/60’ blended lines and two additional acrylic permanent 36’ courts. Sock then jumped on the court to host a tennis clinic with 100 local kids, hitting and then autographing tennis balls for them.

Since it began in 2010, the Fresh Courts program has worked to refurbish more than 80 tennis courts in local communities across the United States. Fresh Courts refurbishment projects are facilitated by the USTA’s Facility Assistance department and funded by American Express. The renovation project starts today and will last 4-5 weeks in order to be completed in conjunction with the 2013 US Open (August 26 – September 9 in New York City).

In the meantime, you can catch Jack Sock as he plays in the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio (August 10-18, 2013). Sock, along with James Blake, Brian Baker and Ryan Harrison, has been granted a wild card entry into the tournament’s main draw.

American Express has been a proud sponsor of the US Open for 20 years, bringing fans closer to the sport they love and enhancing viewing experiences for Cardmembers live on-site. Their goal with “Fresh Courts” is to inspire and grow the local passion for tennis, while reinvesting valuable resources to strengthen the community through sport.

(Jack Sock coaching the local kids on the unpainted concrete courts that  will soon be replaced with USTA blue and green colors to resemble the courts used at the U.S. Open. Photo courtesy of KLKN-TV, Lincoln, NE)

(Jack Sock coaching the local kids on the
unpainted concrete courts that will soon be replaced with USTA blue and green colors to resemble the courts used at the U.S. Open. Photo courtesy of KLKN-TV, Lincoln, NE)

With tennis becoming an increasingly global sport, it makes sense that the USTA has concerns that more talent isn’t being produced on American soil. And, thanks to American Express, they’re doing something about it. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a Grand Slam contender among the American men again. Until then, carry on and play tennis, right? Players like Jack Sock are an invaluable resource. As one of the USA’s rising tennis stars, the moment his adidas tennis shoes step onto the court, he is a role model. The moment he slices the air with his Babolat racket he becomes an inspiration to kids who want to have as much fun as he has hitting the ball. Just go to an ATP event when Sock is on the court and if you separate the crowds cheers by age, you will notice that a huge portion of vocal Sock supporters are young people. Kids are known for their honesty, and the kids love Jack Sock. As a youngster taking tennis lessons, Sock looked up to another player from Nebraska — Andy Roddick — so I’m sure he understands how motivational his returning to his hometown courts is.

Start following the US Open action on Twitter; use @USOpen, @USTA, @AmericanExpress and the AmEx hashtag (#AmexTennis) to stay up to date with your favorite players. You can follow Jack Sock on Twitter (@JackSock) as well as on Facebook to follow his journey to this year’s US Open and beyond.

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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the world for Parcbench... from the Biennale in Venice, to Centre Court in Wimbledon, to Rhythm & Roots Reunion in Bristol, Tennessee. He is based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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About Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the world for Parcbench... from the Biennale in Venice, to Centre Court in Wimbledon, to Rhythm & Roots Reunion in Bristol, Tennessee. He is based in New York City and frequently on the road.
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