Community tennis programs throughout the state received portions of $30,000 raised by the USTA Florida Foundation. Love Serving Autism, a program operated out of the McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater, will receive $2,125.

CLEARWATER — A portion of approximately $30,000 raised throughout the state by the United States Tennis Association Florida Foundation will be appropriated to a Pinellas County program that uses tennis to aid people with autism spectrum disorders.

The Love Serving Autism program operated at the McMullen Tennis Complex, south of Gulf to Bay Boulevard, west of U.S. 19, will receive $2,125 of the raised money to assist in day-to-day operations. Founded in 2016 by speech-language pathologist Lisa Pugliese, Love Serving Autism is a nonprofit organization based out of North Palm Beach. It provides a specialized therapeutic program focusing on tennis, communication and life skills for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and developmental challenges.

The funding was part of August through October generated grants from the USTA Florida Section Foundation that returns 90 percent of the annual contributions it receives from the “Play Tennis!” license plate and 100 percent from other sources directly back into the Florida tennis community.

“These grants bring our 2018 grant total to approximately $76,000 and more than 30 grants,” USTA Florida Section Foundation President Alexis Johnson stated in a press release. “The best way to cap off this year has been seeing the happy faces, of all ages and abilities, that are participating in thriving tennis programs supported in part by our loving donors and impact investors.”

Since 2010, the USTA Florida Section Foundation has awarded almost $1,300,000 in grants for tennis programs serving people of all ages and abilities throughout Florida.

More information on the grant funding and the organization’s year-round efforts can be found at www.USTAFloridaFoundation.com.