Mission and History
We strengthen our community by educating and empowering youth to realize their full potential.
SPUT creates a social and learning environment that is safe, inclusive and nurturing for kids of all races, religions, sexual orientation, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds.
SPUT focuses on social-emotional development of our students to prepare them to be leaders on and off the tennis court. SPUT SPIRIT (service, perseverance, integrity, responsibility, imagination, and teamwork) is infused into every lesson and expected of every participant.
Health & Wellbeing
SPUT builds, sustains and nourishes the physical and emotional health of each child who takes part in its program by weaving the fun and activity of tennis with practical health information to give them the tools to be healthy in body and mind.
Pursuit of Excellence
SPUT believes in continuous quality improvement as an organization and that all program participants should pursue every challenge – be it on the tennis court, classroom, or in the community – with the highest level of integrity, fervor, and sportsmanship.
SPUT values its partnerships with families, schools, government, other nonprofits and the business community to best support the development of kids in our program.
The Saint Paul Urban Tennis Program was created in 1991 as a pilot project through the Northwest Tennis Patrons, now known as InnerCity Tennis. Lachlan Reed, the founder of the Inner City Tennis Program donated $10,000 as the first seed money for the St Paul Urban Tennis Program. Under the guidance of Sandy Martin, three sites were chosen in an area of low-income housing where few opportunities existed for young people: The Bucky Olson Courts at Saint Paul Central, El Rio Vista and Dayton's Bluff were chosen in order to focus on African-American, Hispanic and Asian populations. During that first summer, 125 young people participated in the program. In 2016 that number had reached more than 2,500.
The following year, the great Ernie Greene was asked to merge his efforts with the Martin Luther King Tennis Buffs to Saint Paul Urban Tennis. At this point, our program really took off. Ernie helped increase participation, donors, and build on the life skills that Ernie had been instilling as an important part of his curriculum and relationship with the students.