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Lafayette Gardens Tennis Club

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 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 10: Recap from Lafayette Gardens

Week 10: Recap from Lafayette Gardens

After winning Davis Cup on July 30, Lafayette Gardens participants were eager to return to regular class on August 6, after previously missing tennis on July 23 for a weather-related cancellation.

At Lafayette Gardens, with ominous grey skies, the class began with just a few students, but others trickled in as the sun began to shine. To warm up students ran a couple of laps around the playground followed by student led stretches. Shortly afterwards, they were divided by ability/age and were assigned different stations.

Stations included learning and practicing serving, forehand and backhand drills with footwork, champion of the court, and volleying.

During the off-court break, Ari, the Educational Coordinator, had volunteers demonstrate good and bad behaviors while on the court and had the students explain why the behaviors were either effective or ineffective. When finished, students were back on the court for a fun game of breakout--it never gets old!--before thanking one of the instructors who was leaving for the summer. 

#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.   

Week 16 Recap: Jamboree!

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Week 16 Recap: Jamboree!

Saturday, September 26 marked the grand finale to KCTL's sixth tennis season: The Annual Youth Tennis Tournament & Community Jamboree. What a wonderful day we had!

Jamboree-2015

Jamboree-2015

The courts at Marcy Playground welcomed students, volunteers, parents, and family members with perfect, sunny weather. Upbeat music pumped from the speakers as burgers, hot dogs, pasta salad and fruit were served. It was the perfect community party atmosphere and farewell to summer.

The main event--the tennis tournament--featured dozens of gripping matches, positive sportsmanship, and commendable individual efforts. Regular matches were played on seven mini tennis courts simultaneously, while the Final Rounds for each bracket were held independently at the end of the day.

We're very proud to announce our 2015 Jamboree winners:

10 & Under Bracket

Winner: Julius D., Lafayette Gardens

Runner-Up: Emeka A., Marcy

11 & Over Bracket

Winner: Jonathan D., Marcy

Runner-Up: Jovani A., Marcy

In addition to the tournament bracket trophies, we presented a new award--Player of the Year--to a student who maintained perfect attendance this season and who always tried his best. This award went to Jovani A., who was also the 11 & Over Bracket's Runner-Up.

As KCTL President & Founder Michael McCasland reminded us during the Awards Ceremony, there are very few winners in a tennis tournament. Because almost all participants leave the courts as losers, there's no reason for students to get angry at themselves--or at their opponents--because they didn't finish in first place.

Instead, participants are encouraged to look to the winners for inspiration--to mimic their dedication and consistency--in order to learn and grow as tennis players and as individuals.

With this in mind, we're immensely proud of every single one of our students. Congratulations to everyone who played with us this season! We look forward to returning to the courts together in 2016!

You can view all the photos from the 2015 Jamboree on Facebook.

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#IServeBecause: Efi da Silva's Story

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#IServeBecause: Efi da Silva's Story

For three seasons, Lafayette Gardens Volunteer Efi da Silva has been a valuable role model to KCTL kids. Today, Efi shares her thoughts on teaching children and her observations of "growth on all fronts" program-wide. Unlike our past #IServeBecause interviewees, Efi did not come to KCTL as a tennis player. Her lack of experience with the sport, though, did not undermine her impact as a volunteer, but enriched it as she learned something new alongside the students.

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2014_Efi_da_Silva

How and when did you learn about KCTL?

I heard about KCTL through my old roommate. (Hi, Tiffany!) She had volunteered the previous year and convinced me that I didn't need tennis experience to participate.

What inspired you to volunteer?

When I was younger I participated in free programming that helped me gain exposure to areas that I otherwise would not have had an opportunity to partake in. After learning about KCTL and the opportunity it provides to kids in Bed-Stuy, it made sense that I become a volunteer.

What, if any, prior experience did you have with tennis and/or with children?

I had taught kids before, but since I had no tennis background, my first year I learned alongside the kids and guided them as I picked things up.

What can you identify as the most significant positive change(s) to KCTL since you began volunteering?

Since I started volunteering two years ago, the most positive change has been growth on all fronts: the number of kids, the number of volunteers, the number of sites. But then there's also the refined and amplified curriculum. You can see the kids improving in tennis and learning skills on the court that they can take with them to school, home, or wherever they may find themselves.

As we near the end of the season, what's the most important lesson you want the LG students to take away from the program this year?

LG kids are awesome and I see this seed in them already, but I'd like them to remember to not let wins and losses on and off court define or discourage them but instead to keep persistent at whatever goal they're working towards.

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Week 11 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

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Week 11 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

Saturday was a hot day on the Lafayette Gardens flattop, which probably lowered the turnout a bit. We had seven returning kids and four newly signed up kids. But those who came were in luck--it was game day!

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ESZ_5167

After stretching, we warmed up with a game of Pac-Man, a new one for the students at LG. Class consisted of three game stations: Beat the Pro, The Alligator Game (with overheads!), and Freezer.

In lieu of offcourt, we pulled a couple kids at a time aside to decorate the Lafayette Gardens canvas, to be displayed at the Fundraiser. After a long water break, we finished class off with games of Scramble and Breakout.

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#IServeBecause: Bryce Richards' Story

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#IServeBecause: Bryce Richards' Story

When Bryce Richards discovered KCTL two years ago, he already had plenty to bring to the court: nearly 20 years of tennis experience, high school team leadership experience, and a background in teaching the sport to children. Through his unique journey from Sumner Volunteer to Sumner Site Leader and, now, Lafayette Gardens Site Leader, Bryce's dedication has made a difference for KCTL--but he's always left room for reflection. Read on for some of Bryce's biggest takeaways from our youth tennis program.

How and when did you learn about KCTL, and what attracted you to the program?

I learned about the program in September 2013, right after I'd moved to New York. I'd just reconnected with a friend who invited me to join, so I volunteered at Sumner a couple times that fall. I loved the idea of bringing tennis directly into the housing projects. I'd never seen anything like that. I also had a lot of fun chatting with the kids; I'd forgotten how much fun it can be to work with kids.

What positive changes have you observed in the program over the years?

It's definitely become more organized. In 2013, I just showed up at Sumner and started hitting with a couple kids without any instructions or formal training. Last year--during which time I was Site Leader at Sumner--was far more organized, but a couple of things fell through. This year, Meredith's role as Director of Programming has made a huge difference. Case in point: the wonderful Davis Cup we just had.

What do you consider the highlight(s) of your experience with KCTL?

In early 2015, I took all the kids on a trip to the Google office where I work. I thought I was going to need to memorize all sorts of facts about the company that might bore the kids, but I should have known that a game room, unlimited snacks, and all the silly Google decorations would be more than enough entertainment on their own. I think the kids had a blast. The goal was for them to say to think, "Wow, this is cool, I'd like to work someplace like this when I grow up. So this is why school matters."

How and when did you begin playing tennis?

I've played tennis for as long as I can remember. My parents took me and my older sister out to the court to feed balls from us when we were three or four years old. Now, with an adult's perspective, I'm so grateful for how much patience and love they showed us by doing that. I really ought to thank them again.

How has playing tennis impacted you personally?

Tennis has been a part of every stage of my life. Growing up, I played "family tennis"--my mom and me vs. my sister and dad. I played in tournaments as I got older, was captain of the high school team, worked my first job teaching at a tennis camp, played club tennis in college, and met most of my friends through tennis. And continuing to today, KCTL is a big part of my life. That's one of many great things about tennis: it's a lifelong sport. My dad plays all the time, and he's pushing 70. I don't think the same can be said for a sport like rugby.

What do you want to see the students at Lafayette Gardens gain from playing tennis this summer?

I think KCTL will teach different things to different kids. I think some might learn a lot from the off-courts discussions, information that sticks with them later in life. I still remember some facts and life advice passed down from my mom or dad when I was very young, some of which are quite important! Other kids might benefit more from the tennis instruction, by picking up a sport that they can play for a long time. Learning to lose with dignity is an important life lesson--you do a lot of losing in tennis. This is what I think is great about KCTL. The program provides so many different positive things--formal mentoring in the off-court conversations, informal mentoring in the interaction with volunteers, tennis lessons, and just plain fun--that I think are bound to help these kids.

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#IServeBecause: Gloria Dorsey's Story

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#IServeBecause: Gloria Dorsey's Story

Gloria Dorsey is the proud and supportive mother of nine-year-old Julius Dorsey, a student at KCTL’s Lafayette Gardens Tennis Club. KCTL parents like Gloria are a vital component of our program's mission to empower Brooklyn families and build community.

Gloria is one of several KCTL parents/guardians who comprise the KCTLPA (Kings County Tennis League Parents Association), a committee that aims to increase student enrollment, achieve student retention, and maintain a parent support system.

We recently spoke with Gloria to feature a parent's perspective in the #IServeBecause series. As you’ll learn below, she and her son are longstanding, committed KCTL participants.

How long has your son, Julius, been a student with Kings County Tennis League?

Julius has been playing with KCTL since 2012, which makes four years including the 2015 season.

How did you and Julius learn about the program?

A teacher at Julius’ former school—PS 270—passed along a flyer to us in the spring of 2012. We were delighted to learn about the opportunity.

Prior to joining, did your son play tennis (or know about tennis)?

No. Julius had never played tennis before, but he knew about the game from watching tennis tournaments with me on television.

Based on what Julius has told you, what does he like most about KCTL?

Above all, Julius enjoys meeting other kids and making new friends. He likes learning a new sport, too. The volunteers are very nice and friendly, and he enjoys their lessons and group discussions.

What do you like most about it?

It’s a free opportunity for my son to learn something new! I love watching him learn how to play the game on Saturday afternoons. Meanwhile, I’m able to relax in the park and meet other parents in the community with similar interests as me. I also like how nice the volunteers have proven to be working with my son and the other children.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?

I think KCTL is helping our kids to develop their skills physically, mentally, and morally. I never had the opportunity as a child to learn how to play tennis, so I'm very happy that KCTL is giving our son the chance to learn how to play this type of sport. My family has experienced many good things as a result of this program.

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Week 5 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

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Week 5 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

Despite the threat of rain, Lafayette Gardens had a big turnout of 20 kids on Saturday. We focused on forehand and backhand fundamentals and rallying. We're grateful to have had class considering last week's rainout and next week's holiday cancellation.

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LG_Julius_2015

As usual, class operated in four stations. The first was the Fitness Station, where each player hit a forehand, ran through a fitness obstacle course, picked up one ball, and returned to the line. Next, at the Ping Pong Tennis Station, we held doubles rallies where partners had to alternate hitting shots. Station three was for Forehand and Backhand Fundamentals, and, finally, a Beat the Pro Station let kids take turns playing points with a volunteer.

Efi, a volunteer, filled in for our Site Coordinator, Candice, to lead the off-court conversation. We discussed manners, etiquette, and communication. Another volunteer, Kirzia, cracked up our students with a theatrical demonstration of bad manners; the kids then explained what had made her behavior rude. Sadie, a student, impressively cited a quote by the Dalai Lama(!) to summarize the lesson: When talking, you're saying what you already know, but when listening, you can learn something new.

After off-court, we wrapped up class with a new game, Scramble. Scramble combines elements of tennis, volleyball, and pure fun. We lined up all four nets to form a single "mega court." There is one team on each side of the long net. One ball is in play, which a team can hit three times before it must go to the other side. No player can hit the ball twice in a row, and the point ends when the ball rolls--it can bounce any number of times--or a team breaks a rule. Despite some initial resistance to playing something besides Breakout, the kids loved Scramble.

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Week 4 Recap

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Week 4 Recap

Well, our fourth week was going to be an extension of our lesson on forehands, but that turned out to be a bust, thanks to some ugly weather here in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon. We hate when that happens!

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In the meantime, keep up with the latest from KCTL's weekly sessions on our Facebook page or our Instagram account. We've been sharing a lot of photos of our students in action.

Fingers crossed we have clearer skies for our next class, Saturday, June 27.

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Off-Court Talk: The Environment

Our Off-Court discussion this week was about the Environment/Recycling. We talked about ways we can help protect the environment, and we discussed recycling.

We asked our students what they knew about the subject recycling... many of them knew a lot about recycling! We discussed the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. We discussed littering and the harmful effects it has on the environment. We talked about how the trees and plants help the environment by producing clean oxygen. I asked our students what they knew about landfills. Most of the older students knew what a landfill was.

We talked about air pollution. Mainly about how all the cars in NYC pollute the air, and what we could do to reduce air pollution. Our kids stated that walking was a great way to reduce air pollution (and a great way to stay in shape!) or to ride a bike or travel using mass transit.

We're asking all of the students to bring in an item that was recyclable and one that isn't. Lafayette Garden students can bring their items to Candice and Marcy students can bring their items to Gary. A prize for the winner will be determined by Michael.

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Week 10: Playing Tennis Together

From Lafayette Gardens:

Saturday's play date between Marcy and Lafayette Gardens was so much fun! It was exciting to see our LG kids interacting with the Marcy kids on the newly renovated Marcy court. At times I was even taken aback by how much they've learned--their tennis skills are definitely improving! The turn out was perfect and tons of parents were watching. Looking forward to more playing time together in the future.

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Week 3 Recap: Forehands and Forehands and Forehands

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Week 3 Recap: Forehands and Forehands and Forehands

From Marcy Tennis Club

For this week's class, our site leader Maayan put in place five skills/drills stations, which our students rotated between... this enabled our students to work with all of the coaches/mentors throughout the class time. The stations included: Rallying, Footwork & Movement, Fundamentals, Feeding Balls and last but not least the off-court discussion regarding Manners and Etiquette.

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From Tompkins Tennis Club

This week, we have made slow but meaningful progress with all of our age groups. Our youngest group worked on their forehand strokes, focusing on how to grip the racket, which can be difficult for the little ones. They also began hitting their first few forehands of the season, so it's only up hill from here! The middle age group ran through many forehands, making the goal of this past week to hit as many balls as possible, to reinforce proper form, and to have our students more comfortable with swinging their racket properly. The older kids focused mainly on footwork, and forehand movement drills. Together we are working on moving naturally around the court, and being ready and able to move those feet when we have to.

From Lafayette Gardens Tennis Club

This past weekend at Lafayette Gardens was a blast. I'm sure everyone was postively exhausted in the best way possible by the end of class. Focusing on forehands with such a wide range of levels, class was a nice mix of tennis rotations and an off-court discussions about safety and communication.

From Sumner Tennis Club

This week's class went great. The kids did basic stretches and continued practicing their forehand technique. The off-court discussion expanded last week's conversation on teamwork by focusing in on leadership within a team setting. The kids were all provided a list of four core leadership roles and asked to think about what type of leader they identify with. The kids appeared to have the best time with the Beat the Pro game that we played toward the end of class.

Sumner week 3

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Season Opener & Week 2 Recap

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Season Opener & Week 2 Recap

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Wow. This weekend will be our third class with the kids this season. Time is already flying. The program is off to a tremendous start, and it's only up-hill from here! We had a solid turnout for our first class at each of the sites: Marcy, Tompkins, Lafayette Gardens and Sumner Houses. And we were surprised and excited by the number of new, eager faces that came out at Tompkins and Sumner.

The first class was mostly registration and getting-to-know each other activities, like name games, relay races and some simple tennis games. At Tompkins, we mostly emphasized keeping the kids engaged and having fun. Across all four sites, all the kids took an interest in learning the sport of tennis, even those who had never played before!

The second week's class, we were lucky that the rain held off (mostly) and we had a beautiful day. At Sumner, we started with drills to work on forehand form. Midway through class we had an group discussion about teamwork, which we followed up with teamwork games. Just as the rain was starting we got in a good loud "One, two, three, SUMNER TENNIS CLUB!" Lucky Sumner, we had a great class at Tompkins, also full of forehand work, but the falling rain made us miss out on the end of class cheer! (One of my personal favorite parts of class.) It was great to see that all the kids--new and returning--picked up the forehand surprisingly quickly.

Site coordinator, Gary, talks about the first two weeks of class: "Today was our first class, and need I say that I was very excited....I finally getting the opportunity to put all that I learned during my training, to good use and to finally get to meet our students. Getting to know everyone with the name games we used was a blast, it helped me out that's for sure! The class then proceeded with an introduction the the game/sport of tennis. The students enjoyed the drills as well as the chance to put they learned to use with the various games we played.

"We played another few rounds of name games, which again, was a blessing for me lol. Class started out as usual with our stretching exercises to help limber up the students and to prepare them for today's drills and the activities planned for them. Our first warm up exercise/drill was a gamed called "Centipede". This activity worked on footwork & speed. We then followed up with the the Penny drill and Elbow to the target drill. We proceeded to play a few rounds of a game I like to call "Outfield," where all of our students get to practice what was taught to them... hitting a forehand and working on their footwork. We barely had enough time to get our Marcy Site "Shout Out" before Mother Nature open up and the clouds and rain started pouring down.

Site coordinator, Candice, talks about the season opener: "It's been an extremely exciting time at Lafayette Gardens. Each week the sun's been out and the kids are coming from every direction of the neighborhood, explaining with pride how they participated last year or the year before that. I'm really excited about the season given we've already had an overflow of kids showing up ready to play!"

I think it's safe to say that the volunteers also had a great time getting to meet the kids. We're all looking forward to seeing the kids grow, not only in tennis but the building of their character. See you next week!

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tompkins_seasonopener

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