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#NothingTopsTennis: International Teamwork at Davis Cup 2016

#NothingTopsTennis: International Teamwork at Davis Cup 2016

July's educational theme, Cognitive Awareness, concluded with an activity that, for many students, required an entirely new way of thinking: playing tennis with a teammate. While the first eight weeks of the season emphasized individual athletic performance and behavior, July 30 highlighted the importance of collaboration with a tennis partner and appreciation for an entire team.

The Davis Cup is an annual tournament in which each KCTL site represents a country. Landmarks on our diverse world map included Guyana (Lafayette Gardens), France (Marcy), Trinidad & Tobago (Jackie Robinson), Brazil (Sumner), and Senegal (Tompkins). Before play, the students and volunteers from each team briefly discussed key facts about their countries.

Tournament play itself consisted of nine "Champion of the Court" stations, in which participants were paired up and matched up according to skill level. In order to become the new Champion, the Challengers had to score two consecutive points against their opponents.  All points won on the Champion side contributed to each team's total score.

The final results of the tournament were definitely shocking, considering that Marcy is our long-term defending champion. Lafayette Gardens, Tompkins, and Sumner, placed in first, second, and third, respectively. We are extremely proud of all players and teams for their efforts!

Beyond tennis, we were fortunate to have two special guests on the court with us. Thank you to KIND Snacks for again sharing healthy goodness with us, and to Birdie NYC (GreenNYC's mascot) for awesome reusable water bottles in exchange for our promise to use less plastic!

#NothingTopsTennis: Using Our Tennis Court to Teach Healthy Choices

#NothingTopsTennis: Using Our Tennis Court to Teach Healthy Choices

June is Healthy Choices Month at Kings County Tennis League. Our students have participated in a series of off-court discussions about nutrition and exercise, and this coming weekend, during Family Day, we’re having a fitness challenge!

At Lafayette Gardens, where there is no physical tennis court, but a large open blacktop space with portable nets and hand-drawn lines, Educational Coordinator Ari recently led an informational, interactive game called “This or That.” Quite fantastically, the game combines exercise and nutrition!

Ari presented her students with two different foods—each set at opposite ends of the court—and directed them to decide which is nutritionally superior. They were instructed to declare their choice by running to the end of the court at which the perceived healthier food was located.

The decisions were individual, not team-based. Each child independently ran to the side that reflected his or her own personal opinion. After each sprint to a food choice, Ari led a discussion about which choice was, in fact, nutritionally better and why. It was definitely an excellent educational opportunity for all of the participants.

Lafayette Gardens may lack a real tennis court, but, evidently, this cannot stop the team from using its makeshift tennis surface in a creative way. Most of us look at a tennis court and see only one purpose: to play a specific game. But at KCTL, we use the tennis court—"real" or not—for activities and lessons of all kinds.   

#NothingTopsTennis: Off-Court in the Hot Seat with Michele from Jackie Robinson

#NothingTopsTennis: Off-Court in the Hot Seat with Michele from Jackie Robinson

At Jackie Robinson’s June 4 class, we used the off-court session for a new learning initiative, the “Hot Seat,” in which students have the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions questions to a volunteer or staff member. This week, Jackie Robinson’s Site Leader, Michele Gee, was “interviewed” by her students in the Hot Seat.

Questions ranged from silly things like, “What hair products do you use”?” to “How do you feel when you play tennis?”. The latter question was proposed by a 10-year-old student, Amr, who so sincerely wanted to know how tennis makes Michele feel—as if he, too, experiences something “special” when playing the game.

Michele’s answer was simple, yet powerful; the game makes her feel strong because it reminds her of the obstacles she’s overcome. “I struggled with athleticism throughout my childhood. I always had to work twice as hard as the next person to develop my hand eye coordination and motor skills. When I think of all the perseverance that it took for me to succeed, I know that it required a ton of strength for me to not give up. Tennis was very much a challenge for me but when I look back at all the obstacles I had to overcome, I feel very accomplished.”

Reflecting on the session, Educational Coordinator Christine Hum says, “Tennis has a unique way of bringing out the best in others and bringing people of different backgrounds together. Who knew we'd have so much to talk about off-court?”

Some of the younger kids who are usually quiet came out of their shells to pepper Michele with questions about her life, Christine proudly recalls. The kids loved the interview format and a chance to relate to the adults on their site. The 30+ students had more questions than time allowed, so Christine encouraged them to continue their conversations with Michele throughout the summer.