Week 10 Recap from Jackie Robinson

Week 10 Recap from Jackie Robinson

Saturday, August 5 at Jackie Robinson was a questionable day for tennis that ended up working out just perfectly in the end. Due to the weather, the site staff waited 15 minutes after the hour to begin, allowing more students to arrive. 

The students and volunteers began with a warm up of sprints, butt kicks, high knees, frog jumps, and side steps.

The class was then broken out into three courts according to skill, which ranged from beginner to intermediate. Team Jackie Robinson worked on the basics (forehand, backhand, and volleys) with a few games in between.

Educational Coordinators Christine and Michael led a great lesson where students used their artistic skills to design a puzzle piece with pictures that illustrated some of their interests or favorite things. 

The players ended with a game of tennis baseball, or Breakout, with the intermediate group and a game of Tennis Freeze Tag with the beginners.

Overall it was a rewarding experience for all participants!

Week 9 Recap: Davis Cup!

Week 9 Recap: Davis Cup!

On Saturday, July 29, our students competed in Davis Cup, as is KCTL midseason tradition. Modeled off the real Davis Cup, each of the five sites represented a country in the doubles tournament. We put the following nations on the map: Mongolia (Tompkins), Greece (Marcy), Brazil (Lafayette Gardens), Kenya (Sumner), and Trinidad & Tobago (Jackie Robinson). 

Saturday was an usually windy day at Marcy Playground, but we held things (the portable tennis nets) down (literally) with bags of rice. Before the matches began, student ambassadors from each site presented some historical and cultural information on their country to an audience that included many volunteers, parents, family members, and other spectators. The national anthems from each country were played.

The format of the tournament was as follows: The first doubles team to 10 points was the winner of the match. To compliment real tennis scoring, victory meant winning by at least two points. Every single point counted toward the final team score, which propelled participants to make the most of every single point. The final point count was divided by how many matches each site played to determine the Champion.

During play, we witnessed some healthy competition from each site which helped to create a fantastic atmosphere. Program Manager Dave Webley notes that he observed "very encouraging signs that our students are improving their games, while learning how to deal with their emotions when competing."

Mongolia was declared the Champion at the end of the day. Congratulations, Tompkins! Although four teams did not go home as winners, all participants had a thrilling and rewarding Davis Cup tournament. Everyone played at least three matches, remained engaged, and demonstrated competitive spirit. 

Week 8 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

Week 8 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

Class at Lafayette Gardens this hot, sunny weekend started with a warm-up led by one of our volunteers. Once finished, students were divided into groups in preparation for play.

The more advanced students headed over to the handball courts where they hit against there wall to practice control and good form in preparation for Davis Cup matchplay.

Another group of advanced students were sent to the nets were they volleyed two-on-two. The kids were reminded to maintain strong communication with their partners, as they will in the upcoming Davis Cup doubles tournament.

Our newest students gathered to learn the basics of forehand and backhand stroke, while our intermediate students worked on agility, stamina, and footwork drills at the fitness station.

The groups rotated about three times before everyone came together for the off court lesson.

LG's Educational Coordinator, Ari, led a discussion about Davis Cup during the off-court portion. The kids shared and learned information about their tournament country, Brazil, and were reminded about the importance of good sportsmanship in competitive events.

The students ate snacks and hydrated as they listened before eagerly breaking away for their favorite end of class game, Scramble, a form of tennis volleyball.

Week 7 Recap from Marcy

Week 7 Recap from Marcy

It was a beautiful day for tennis at Marcy playground. We had about 20 players participating.

We started off on the Main Court warming up with various dynamic stretches. The kids and volunteers are getting comfortable with the routine.

From there, the players broke off into groups and worked their way through various stations. Bonnie led the Ladder Station also featuring grips & memory board. Danielle and Nakia led the Grip/ Relay Race Station. Camille focused on teaching volleys & kids are building up skills! Bryan and Evan had their group working on groundstrokes, both forehands and backhands. John and Sylvie handled the kids on the Main Court having their group work on groundstrokes, volleys, and serving. They ended by having the players rally and work on their consistency.

Marcy Site Leader Rob's main goals in terms of skills are: consistency, ready position, footwork, and grips. Little by little they are improving!

In the Off-Court Session, Gary and the students discussed Greece, Marcy’s country for the Davis Cup Tournament on July 29th. The kids engaged in small groups and shared their knowledge with everyone at large thereafter. We learned that Greece entered the Davis Cup in 1927. We also about various Greek Gods and the country’s contributions to Modern Western Society. 

Next, everyone moved to the Main Court for a game of Breakout led by Danielle. Our winner was Kyle; Zion was the runner-up. At the end of the session, we all huddled up and thanked ALL the participants for a successful day! Then, a volunteer from each station gave a Shout Out to one special player who exemplified KCTL attributes.


Week 6 Recap from Sumner

Week 6 Recap from Sumner

Sumner was full of milestones and fun on Saturday, July 8.

Because of the heat, we had activities in the shade to rehydrate, refuel, and create. Some students made their own breeze in between tennis activities by skating around the court on their scooter and snake board. Others got together and jumped with a long rope while our Sumner artistic crew created a tennis racquet art exhibit with sidewalk chalk .Shonda led the group in a timely conversation about healthy and peaceful ways to handle bullying. 

Our focus this week was learning about the importance of the “first step” in tennis. We warmed up with the "caterpillar" game to practice our split step and then we progressed to eye foot coordination games by rolling balls between students’ legs with their backs turned. As soon as they saw the ball rolling (or thrown over their head!), they sprinted to see how quickly they could catch up to grab it.

Every week, Sumner’s footwork skills get better and better because students are recognizing first-hand how much better they play when they stay on their toes and react quickly to the ball.

Our rallies are also getting longer! Mike’s court reached 34 hits in a row and Lauren’s court reached 18 in a row. Adam was instrumental in maintaining students' enthusiasm and focus during the games and coaching great volley technique.

All of our volunteers are bringing students’ tennis to new levels each week and it’s an honor to be a part of the development at Sumner tennis club!

Week 5 Recap from Marcy

Week 5 Recap from Marcy

Rain attempts to hold us back every weekend, but we can’t be stopped. We were lucky to enjoy a few hours of learning in the sun before a storm.

We started off warming up with various stretches. We added a footwork and split step combination, which the kids enjoyed and will create good muscle memory for them on the court. 
From there, the players broke off into groups and worked their way through various stations: Ladder, Relay Race/Hand-Eye Coordination, Volleys, Groundstrokes, and King of the Court. 

In the off-court session. Gary asked the students various questions about what they would do in certain situations. For example: "What would you do if you saw someone doing the wrong thing?" Everyone wrote down their answers working with each other and volunteers. Some shared with the group at large. Thanks Gary for engaging the kids and sharing your own thoughts and experiences with them!
Next, everyone moved to the Main Court for a game of Breakout led by Will. Our winner was Javai for the second time this season. 
At the end of the session, we all huddled up and thanked all the participants for a successful day!

Week 4 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

Week 4 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

After a two-week hiatus from tennis due to rain, KCTL celebrated Family Day this past Saturday at Lafayette Gardens and the four other sites. At Lafayette Gardens, the students began classes by introducing their special guests. As a warm up, all played "Pacman" on lines drawn on the blacktop. Two students were deemed Pacmen. If they tagged another player, the tagged then became a Pacman as well.

After three rounds of Pacman, students were then divided into groups and hit the courts where they worked on their forehands and backhands. As they rotated, some students played Tennis Foursquare, a game where players lose the use of an arm or leg for each tennis ball missed.

During the off court session, students got to know one of LG's volunteers, Mark, a little better while he sat in the "Hot Seat." Students asked questions and learned how long Mark has played tennis and what lessons from tennis he's been able to transfer into his life off the court.

Afterwards, everyone came together to play a game of group tennis called Scramble. Class ended with everyone coming into the middle and cheering on Lafayette Gardens. 

Week 2 Recap from Marcy

Week 2 Recap from Marcy

It was a beautiful day at Marcy Playground for our second session of the summer. It was new Site Leader Rob's first Saturday session ever with KCTL and it was a memorable one.

We started off on the Main Court by warming up through various dynamic stretches. The kids loved the “butt kicks” the best.

From there, the players broke off into groups and worked their way through various stations: fitness, relay races, background groundstrokes, rallying, and match play on the main court.

In today’s Education Session, Gary had the volunteers and children “playing” a game of Hello Bingo! Everyone got to know each other on a deeper level finding out common interests they shared. Thanks, Gary!

Next, everyone moved to the Main Court for a game of Breakout led by Brandon. Kyle was our runner-up. Our winner was Javai.

At the end of the session, we all huddled up and thanked everyone for their contribution to a successful day! Then, a volunteer from each station gave a Shout Out to one special player who exemplified KCTL attributes:

  • Ladder Station: Nour  
  • Relay Station: Zachary
  • Backhand Station: Miabella
  • Hitting Station: Liz
  • Main Court: Jovani

Summer Season Opener 2017


Summer Season Opener 2017

Our students, their families, and volunteers made strong showings at all sites for our Saturday, June 3 Summer Season Opener.

Lessons prioritized the technicalities of tennis footwork, forehand groundstrokes, and background groundstrokes. Youth participants ranged vastly in levels of experience. Some students were completely new to the sport and required close instruction, while others retained impressive muscle memory from the Winter Season at Pratt that ended just two months ago. The majority of participants, though, had not played with KCTL since 2016 and were eager to grab their racquets and resume their game.

The off-court discussions were all about introductions and setting expectations. Students and volunteers introduced themselves to one another and learned about the structure of the season. This year, the educational portions of class will heavily incorporate lessons in STEM. Additionally, each student received a punchcard that their Educational Coordinator will use to track their attendance. When students reach certain benchmarks in classes attended, they will receive prizes. The off-court sessions wrapped up with surveys about expectations for what students hope to accomplish in the next four months.

Site staff and volunteers alike are excited to help the kids advance with deeper tennis knowledge like mental toughness, learning how to score, being positive with each other, serving, and agility. Here's to another great season!


Recap: Winter Season Opener

Recap: Winter Season Opener

We welcomed our students back to the tennis courts—indoors!—on Saturday, February 4 at Pratt Institute to commence our first Winter Tennis Season.

Both sessions—ages 9 and under and ages 10 and up—were a lot of fun and very successful. The students were thrilled to be back on the court and were especially happy about the new facility.

The classes began with reviews of basic tennis skills and social norms or tennis etiquette. Led by staff members Lucca and Ari, we reinforced expectations for grips, stances, and swing patterns. The skills recap was helpful for the kids' adjustment to a new tennis surface. Unlike an outdoor tennis court or blacktop, the ball bounces lower on an indoor court, so we emphasized the importance of early swing preparation and bending the knees for groundstrokes. Social norms for the kids include hugging their racquets when they aren't hitting and practicing safety when others are on the court.

After getting a feel for the new, challenging tennis surface, we moved onto rotating stations with fast-paced tennis drills. And, of course, we wrapped up with a game of Breakout at the very end of each session.

View more photos from the Winter Season Opener on Facebook.

Our Brand New Winter Program Begins Next Month!

Our Brand New Winter Program Begins Next Month!

Summer tennis at five public housing developments in Bed-Stuy. Check.
After-school tennis at Marcy Playground. Check.
Indoor Winter Tennis at Pratt Insitute...? Check!


In line with our effort to make tennis available to the kids year round, we are proud to announce the establishment of a brand new Winter Tennis Season based at Pratt next month. We will continue to teach and reinforce the fundamentals of tennis, develop individual strategy on the court, and introduce specialty shots such as drop shots and lobs.

The eight-week program begins Saturday, February 4 and ends Saturday, April 1 with a day off for Presidents' Day Weekend, February 18. Six of the Saturdays will be actual tennis classes at Pratt, while the other two will be field trips to inspire unique learning opportunities, much like our past trips to Google and Made in Midtown Shoe Factory. 

Following exceptionally strong youth interest, enrollment is closed. Volunteer space remains open. If you are 16 or older and available for four or more sessions, you can register to volunteer here.

Fall After School Tennis at Marcy is a Go!

Fall After School Tennis at Marcy is a Go!

It's official; we are breaking tradition—for the better. KCTL is opening a brand new Fall After School Program at Marcy Playground, Monday through Thursday, beginning October 10 to extend engagement with our students following the Annual Jamboree Tournament. Though the lessons are based at Marcy, students from all five sites are eligible for participation. This high-intensity athletic program will give our kids the opportunity to drastically improve their tennis skills with constant play. Thank you to all of the donors and supporters who have made this initiative possible.


Week 14 Recap from Tompkins

Week 14 Recap from Tompkins

After a missed class in observance of Labor Day Weekend, Team Tompkins returned to the court on Saturday, September 10 for Academy Day. The goal for each student was to transition from a First Grader to a Ph.D. graduate by successfully performing a specific tennis skill at each station, which represented a grade level.

The skill for each grade level became increasingly difficult throughout the game. We were proud to see that a high number of students made it beyond Eighth Grade and into High School! Even better, two of our students performed well enough to be "accepted" into College! Site Leader Tina said she could sense the frustration when it took some students significantly longer than others complete certain grades. On the bright side, though, no one ever gave up, which was very inspirational to Tina.

For the off-court discussion, Tompkins hosted a volunteer guest speaker, Jerald, who spoke to the students about police-community relations. He wanted to know how the kids felt about the police and what they would like to ask them if they had the chance.

Jerald then revealed that there would be a police meet-and-greet at the upcoming Jamboree Tournament and encouraged the students to ask the questions proposed in class. A big part of his presentation was to help the students to see the police as friends and protectors instead of foes.

Week 12 Recap from Sumner

Week 12 Recap from Sumner

Sumner students were excited to be back on court after having last class off due to extreme heat.

Class began with the students and volunteers running a few laps around the court and some careful stretching. Afterwards, the students were divided into two groups based on skill level and age. 

The stations of the week were Fitness and Rallying. At Fitness, the kids jump roped, practiced sit-ups and push-ups, and competed in a ladder challenge. The Rallying station took a "beat the pro" format; the children played out points against Mike, a volunteer.

In the off-court session, the students completed individual surveys about grit and resilience to reinforce the concepts and to help the organization's leaders assess their learning.

After off-court, Sumner concluded with their favorite games: Champs and Challengers, followed by Breakout.

We're Going to Arthur Ashe Kids Day on August 27th!

We're Going to Arthur Ashe Kids Day on August 27th!

After a summer of bringing tennis to the kids, we are bringing the kids to the home of the best tennis in the country!


All KCTL students are welcome! Click here to register your child.

KCTL Parents/Guardians and Volunteers are invited to accompany us as chaperones. Fill out a form to join us.

There will NOT be normal Saturday class on this day.


AAKD is an annual grassroots tennis and entertainment event held immediately before the start of the U.S. Open. Expect an incredible day of interactive tennis activities, watching tennis pros practice, a live concert, and more! Food will be provided.

Meet at your regular KCTL site by 9:00 AM for subway departure at 9:20. For our trip home, we'll congregate at Practice Courts 3 & 4 at the Tennis Center shortly after 3:00 PM. We will return to our home sites between 4:00 and 4:30 PM.

No food is allowed inside the USTA grounds. Please do not bring racquets, and avoid bringing bags if you can.