MATT STEVENSON JUNIOR TENNIS TOURNAMENT (NY) EXPANDS ITS MENTAL HEALTH MISSION AT FLUSHING MEADOWS
Focusing on The Team Approach
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Matt Stevenson Junior Tennis Tournament (NY), which will again take place at Flushing Meadows, NY, right after the U.S. Open, is expanding its Mental Health mission to include “The Team Approach.” New this year are interactive exercises for parents/guardians on supporting the emotional well-being of their junior tennis players.
This Tournament is unique in that it is the first and only junior tennis tournament in the country to promote the importance of Youth Mental Health as part of the event. Inaugurated in 2019, the Matt Stevenson Tournament came to New York in 2021 during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September. The Tournament aims to address the national teen depression, anxiety, and suicide crisis by engaging adolescents through a sport they love and promoting dialogue and understanding of mental health issues. The Tournament is growing in popularity, as 303 junior players competed in this NY event last year, up from 207 from the previous year.
Youth Mental Health Crisis
Recent data released by the CDC in February 2023 have sadly confirmed our suspicion that the pandemic has exacerbated what was already a national crisis in Youth Mental Health. According to CDC’s Report, “Nearly all indicators of poor mental health and suicide thoughts and behaviors increased from 2011 to 2021.”1 The Report found that the percentage of teenage girls who persistently felt sad or hopeless increased from about 36% in 2011 to 57% in 2021. By 2021, approximately 69% of LGBTQ+ students felt sad or hopeless, and 45% seriously considered attempting suicide.
Adding to their struggles, some competitive tennis players feel pressure to win, experience performance anxiety, and end up with depressive symptoms after losing a match. On top of competitive pressures, junior tennis players may be especially vulnerable because they are still dealing with the general ups and downs of adolescence. More touring professionals are finally talking about their mental health issues, which may include suicidal ideation. Sport psychologists are now part of the tour to help them deal with their struggles both on and off the tennis court.
In December 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued an Advisory recommending that all types of organizations – not just health care providers, but also schools, community organizations, foundations, and other institutions – have an important role to play in supporting the mental health of children and youth.2
Promoting The Power of Mental Health®
The Matt Stevenson Junior Tennis Tournament, founded by the ProtoStar Foundation, brings this awareness about mental health issues to the junior level. As in previous years, the Tournament will distribute age-appropriate information about depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and materials available from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The mission is to help adolescents understand the many aspects of mental health, including what it means to be mentally healthy and how to take care of their mental health. We call it The Power of Mental Health®. Please view a short video of the Tournament’s mental health mission.
The Team Approach
In 2022, the Tournament added Sport Psychology materials to help junior players understand the interconnection between mental performance on the tennis court and mental health off the tennis court. We focused on the junior tennis player’s development as both a human being and an athlete. This year, we are building on that theme by adding materials for parents/guardians. For example, the updated version of the interactive Sport Psychology Workbook will include not only more exercises for the junior players, but also new exercises that junior players could work on together with their parents/guardians and even those that parents/guardians could do on their own.
Sanctioned by USTA Eastern
Because of its popularity last year, the Doubles and Mixed Doubles events (L5) were held in July at Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the Bronx. The Singles events (L6) will take place over two weekends on September 16-18, 2023 (14u and 18u) and September 23-25, 2023 (12u and 16u). The Tournament is sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), Eastern Section. Players can register for the Tournament on USTA’s tournament website by searching for “Matt Stevenson.” A link to the Tournament is also on ProtoStar’s website.
About Matt Stevenson
The inspiration behind the Tournament came from the late Matt Stevenson, a young, generous, and passionate tennis professional who ran successful junior tennis programs in the Washington, D.C. area. Before tragically taking his own life in 2017 at the age of 32, he had written extensively about his own mental health issues and had asked that kids be made aware of the importance of mental health and to seek help if needed. This Tournament aims to turn a tragedy into something positive.
All proceeds from the Tournament will benefit the Matt Stevenson Junior Tennis Fund, which supports junior tennis programs and promising junior players needing financial aid. A portion of the net proceeds will be donated to AFSP, Flushing Meadow’s junior tennis programs, and the Junior Tennis Foundation, a NY-based nonprofit organization that supports tennis programs for underserved youth and people with disabilities.
About ProtoStar Foundation
The sponsor and organizer of the Tournament is the ProtoStar Foundation, a California nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in San Diego. It is part of the ProtoStar Group, a set of pioneering companies that find resourceful ways to fund, develop, or incubate innovative projects and organizations that have a unique, compelling, and impactful social mission.
Media Contact: Gary P. Poon, [email protected], (202) 360-1160
1 CDC, “Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Data Summary & Trends Report-2011-2021 (2023).
2 “Protecting Youth Mental Health,” The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory (2021).
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SOURCE ProtoStar Foundation
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