Week 14 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

The final Lafayette Gardens class of the summer season began with a quick warm up before students were divided into groups. The more advanced students focused on one on one tournaments. Those waiting for their turn at a one on one either played doubles on a different court or practiced their form by hitting against the wall. Beginner students worked on their formand their ability to make contact with the ball at their courts. 

During the off-court session we discussed sportsmanship and how it can be be manifested at the Jamboree. At the end of class we played two different group tennis themed group games. A few students used the last 15 minutes to practice hitting with volunteers to get in more practice for the Jamboree. 

Once class ended, LG parents hosted a pizza party on the playground for students and volunteers. It was a great way to end the last class on the playground. 

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Retro Racquet Bash 2017: Celebrating the Classic Pros and Feting Future Ones

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On September 7, the M1-6 Lounge was transformed from a swank TriBeCa club to 1970s Forest Hills, as the Kings County Tennis League (KCTL) held court to honor its players, revere in its 7th year and laud its future. 

The Retro Racquet Bash -- KCTL's annual 1970s tennis gala  -- drew more than 200 guests from the ranks of volunteers, parents and KCTL fans to drink, eat, try their best to look like Bjorn Brig and watch the women's U.S. Open Semifinal. While following Sloane Stephens -- previously ranked No. 973 in the world -- make quick work of No. 3 Venus Williams, KCTL fans dreamed of sending their charges to Flushing someday.

"With your help, we have had an amazingly successful year," said Michael McCasland, the founder and president of KCTL, before listing off the programs launched, courts restored and students reached, including two who earned scholarships to training academies. "We're not stopping until every kid in our neighborhoods has access to tennis."

Highlights of the night were in high supply -- as vintage racquets were passed around for a variety of creative party photos -- but many would say that hearing KCTL student-turned-volunteer Brandon Otero tell the story of how he came to KCTL and learned tennis marked the upmost  point of the evening. Otero now attends the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where he studies Business Administration. 

In addition to Otero, McCasland and Board Chair, Adam Stolz honored volunteers of the year, Chase Altneu, Ephraim Kirkwood and Krystal Atwater with hand-framed photographs of the KCTL teams. District 36 City Councilor Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., who represents Bedford Stuyvesant and northern Crown Heights, also received an award for his involvement with the court renovation and other KCTL projects. 

In 2017, KCTL reached 195 children, up 18 percent from 2016, and trained 126 volunteers. up 14 percent from 2016.  It has expanded to a comprehensive year-round program, formed Upswing, an enrichment program for our most talented and dedicated students, and introduced an all-girls tennis clinic called Go Girl Go! to foster self-confidence and a passion for physical activity among female students

Below are a few photos from the event. To order or view more, check out KCTL's Facebook Page!

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Week 13 Recap from Marcy

This week, the Marcy Club reviewed techniques for the major components of the game and developed their skills in singles competition to prepare for the upcoming Jamboree on September 23rd.

Marcy also had a photographer from the Daily News come out for a story about KCTL that ran on Sunday, 10 September! A journalist interviewed several staff and players throughout the session and they had a good time talking tennis. Here is the story.

Among the volunteers, Olivia led the Ladder Station to focus on “court” movement with racquet preparation. Rohun and Pooja targeted the serve by teaching a proper toss and practicing shoulder movement. Evan led his group in volleying, encouraging proper crossover steps and punching,  before mixing in some game play, which the kids really enjoyed. Chase led a session on proper groundstroke technique and point playing to prepare for the jamboree. Lucca, Jenny, and Brandon practiced hitting and recovering in all the moves of the game. They played the crowd-pleaser “King” of the court in singles -- Jenny spent a lot of the time as Queen.

The Education Session asked the students to think critically about the things they learned this summer and how they could apply them to their goals for the upcoming year, with volunteers leading small group discussions. There was lots of smiling and laughing all round -- everyone had a lot of fun with this. Thereafter, two groups played breakout and the other, King of the Court. Those on the main court participated in a Team Singles competition. 

At the end of the session, we all huddled up and did shout outs to our stand outs:

Ladder Station: Ada
Serving Station: Emeka
Volleying Station: Nour
Groundstrokes/ Points Station: Kyree
Main Court: Zion

Thanks Volunteers. One more Saturday and then it’s time for the Jamboree!

Go Marcy!

Members of the Kings County Tennis League hone their skills in Brooklyn on the corner of Marcy and Nostrand Aves. (ALEX RUD/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Members of the Kings County Tennis League hone their skills in Brooklyn on the corner of Marcy and Nostrand Aves. (ALEX RUD/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Week 12 Recap from Tompkins

Week 12 Recap from Tompkins

For class this week, he team was part of the Tompkins Houses Block party!

The streets were closed off, providing us with the perfect space to play tennis. Neighbors hosted barbecues, played games, and invited a DJ to play music throughout the day.

Our tennis team set up class in the middle of the street. All kids in the community were invited to play tennis with us. Many did join or stayed to watch.

We started with drills at four stations: Forehand, Backhand, Volley, and a Surprise Station. Players had to jump from one station to the next keeping them moving and keeping their skills sharp. This format was also a great way to give the other community players a chance to hit. We then played a variety of other games from musical racquets to relay races to tennis caterpillar. 

Overall, it was a great day and many residents in the neighborhood who had not heard of KCTL were excited to learn about us and are hoping to enroll their children for the next season. 

Week 11 Recap from Sumner

Week 11 Recap from Sumner

We have a new tennis court (but its appearance is a surprise, hence the photo in this post)!

On Saturday, our group marked the important occasion by playing full court tennis against each other, which was a first at Sumner. We had four students and two volunteers (great job, Mike and Adam!) who paired up to play Champion of the Court for almost an hour. That was the first time our entire group played points against each other at Sumner, given the varying levels of abilities and ages.

Two of our youngest players experienced dramatic improvement over the course of one hour. Both girls, Nilda and Annahlis, bravely stepped up to play points with older players. Their confidence grew each time they made contact with the ball and they both surprised their opponents by hitting several winners.

We also practiced giving each other positive support when a player lost interest, felt discouraged or intimidated. All four Sumner students who participated on Saturday walked off the court with renewed confidence and enjoyment for the game.

It was an excellent day to mark an important moment for Sumner Tennis Club.

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

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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!

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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.