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The Youth Tennis Foundation (YTF) was created in 1962 by several tennis enthusiasts who wished to create a patrons organization. Jack Blair, a former president of the Florida Tennis Association and a member of the Florida Tennis Association's Hall of Fame, was the first president of the YTF and he remained the president for almost all of the ensuing 25 years. In 1987, Jack stepped down and Pierce Kelley took over the reins for the next 20 years. In 2007, the board named Ed Jagger as it's president.

During most of its existence, the YTF has provided moneys to junior players who were the best players in the State as an incentive and a reward for their accomplishments. The moneys were to be used only to help those players compete in national events. Many tennis players gave money to the YTF and were called "Friends of Tennis" for doing so.

However, the YTF also pioneered several projects, most notably the Youth Team Tennis Program, begun in 1976, which started with a 12 and under program in Clearwater, Florida, under Pierce Kelley's leadership, and became the first ever team championship for unranked players in the State of Florida. The next year, with the assistance of Bobby Curtis, who later became the State Coordinator for the YTF, a 14 and under state championships were held in Miami, at Moore Park. The following years added the 16 and 18 and under categories and within a few short years thousands of children across the state were playing team tennis. In 1987, the Florida Tennis Association took over the administration of this worthy program and re-named it the Junior Team Tennis Program.

1981 Junior Team Tennis event sponsored by YTF

The YTF also started a College Scholarship Program. Created by Pierce and administered by Bobby, Florida's college-bound seniors were provided with information about hundreds of schools where they could attend and possibly receive scholarships. Colleges and Universities were also provided with information about Florida's graduating seniors. The NCAA rules and regulations were closely adhered to and many players benefitted from this service. After many years, the United States Tennis Association took over this program.

The YTF also sponsored a State Team Tennis Championships for the best players in the state. The winning teams were then provided with moneys to attend the National City Team Championships. This program ended when the National Tournament was abandoned several years ago.

The YTF has sponsored programs at parks, such as Moore Park in Miami, juvenile detention facilities, playgrounds and recreation centers across the state over the years.

For many, many years, the YTF sponsored adult tournaments all over the State, which were called YTF tournaments, and a portion of the entry fee went to the YTF. Mike O'Neil, son of former FTA president Frank O'Neil, administered those tournaments, many of which were family oriented tournaments. This program ceased in 1987 or thereabouts.

Until recently, the YTF was the only state-wide patrons group in the State of Florida. Due to a recent bequest from a tennis enthusiast, the YTF looks forward to continuing its quest to promote and nourish youth tennis programs in the state of Florida.

Jack Blair--YTF Founder

    Born in Scotland, Jack came to the United States as a young boy. He was raised in South Florida and became one of Florida's better junior players. During WW II, he piloted heavy bombers runs over Germany. After the war, he worked with a relative, James Donn, and was the general manager of Gulfstream Race Track for most of his adult life.

In 1962, Jack and many other prominent members of the tennis community formed the Youth Tennis Foundation as a way to help promote and develop junior tennis in Florida. For virtually all of the next 25 years, Jack was the President of the YTF. Among the many accomplishments during his tenure were the Youth Team Tennis program, the Youth Scholarship program, sponsorship of the City-Team state event, funding for developing players to travel to national events, free clinics at tennis facilities across the state, racket and equipment promotions, YTF adult tournaments and much more.

Jack is a former president of the FTA and a member of the Florida Tennis Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Beverly, and their four children continue to live in Florida and remain tennis enthusiasts.

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