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Marcy 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 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

Week 6: Recap from Marcy

Week 6: Recap from Marcy

Following a break from tennis for Independence Day Weekend, our Marcy students eagerly returned to the courts on Saturday, July 9.

July is Cognitive Awareness Month. We lightly introduced the concept at the beginning of class, but dug deeper during the off-court segment. After stretches and warm-up laps, we played a game that tested our reasoning and judgment. We began standing in the center of court's north side as a group, surrounded by three sets of cones--green, yellow, and blue--in various corners of the court. When our Site Leader, Lucca, announced a color, we ran as a group to the corresponding set of cones. The game not only tested our students' endurance, but their ability to make rational decisions in response to cues. At one point during the game, Lucca called out, "Red!" as a test of judgment. About a third of the students and volunteers began to run toward the nonexistent set of red cones. The drill was a great mental and physical challenge.

Tennis lessons for the day prioritized forehand and backhand volleys. For some students, the no-swing, powerful punch was an easy review, and for others it was an introduction to something completely new. Students participated in stations including a groundstroke-volley combination drill, Volley-Style Champion of the Court, targets, and a racquet-free exercises including squats.

Following our station rotation, our volunteers administered individual paper surveys on Cognitive Awareness. Most students were unfamiliar with the fairly advanced concept, but we hope that by end of the July, they will have a strong understanding.

Next, our Educational Coordinator, Gary, asked everyone to pair up. Most pairs consisted of volunteer and one student. One partner was given a tennis ball, and the other was instructed to obtain the tennis ball from their counterpart "using any means necessary"--safely, of course.

Most student-volunteer pairs ran unnecessarily in circles trying to swat the ball out of the other's hand. But one team completed the exercise correctly. They didn't run. They didn't scream. One partner merely politely asked the other for the ball. So the best way to get the ball was not through a physical contest, but through use of conversation and emotions.

2016 Season Opener at Marcy

2016 Season Opener at Marcy

We’re back! On Saturday, May 28, we launched our seventh season of bringing tennis to the kids of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

About 35 students and 15 volunteers turned out at our biggest and oldest tennis club, Marcy. How different it looked from Marcy’s first go six years ago—on that day, not a single student showed up, the court and surrounding grounds were left empty. How far we have come! On Saturday, the tennis court at Marcy Playground roared with energy, surrounded by parents, residents, and other supportive onlookers.

Our student participants were divided into groups by skill and age to practice various skills, drills, and games at learning stations—including rallying, fitness and footwork, and ball passing.

The Off-Court discussion has taken a new format for 2016. Rather than dedicating a station to Off-Court, all volunteers and students will participate in the conversation together under the direction of the Educational Coordinator.

This week’s topic was light; we played a fun name game to facilitate introductions. Everyone individually announced their first name along with a fruit, vegetable, or sport that begins the with the same letter as their name. A six-year-old student, Kyle, took first place for the most creative use of K with Kayaking. Quality Tennis, Lemons, Mangoes, Ice Skating, and Broccoli are honorable mentions.

We wrapped up with two games of breakout and the team cheer. We are looking forward to a strong season of self-improvement, sportsmanship, and fun.

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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Week 14 Recap from Marcy

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Week 14 Recap from Marcy

At our second-to-last regular class of the season at Marcy, we opened class with a school-themed game called Tennis Academy in honor of the first week of school. The objective of Tennis Academy is to graduate through a series of levels of education by successfully performing various tennis drills. When you've completed all of your education, you're eligible to become President.

Marcy-Off-Court-Discussion

Marcy-Off-Court-Discussion

Marcy's Tennis Academy curriculum looked like this:

  • Elementary School: Hit one forehand
  • Middle School: Hit one backhand
  • High School: Rally against the wall for five groundstrokes
  • College: Rally against a volunteer for five groundstrokes
  • Master's Degree: Hit two forehand volleys and two backhand volleys
  • PhD: Hit two forehand volleys, two backhand volleys, and an overhead
  • President: Rally against a volunteer for 10 groundstrokes

After all of the students graduated from Tennis Academy, Gary conducted an off-court discussion about the start of the school year. As usual, the conversation prompts mixed emotions from the students, who are happy to be reunited with friends, but less than thrilled by the demands of studying and homework. Despite the range of attitudes expressed, the talk provided the kids with the freedom to talk candidly about their returns to the classroom and their goals for another school year.

Class concluded with one round of Breakout followed by a game called Three Strikes, which was new for the Marcy kids. Slightly different from Breakout, Three Strikes requires participants to act honestly and to consider risk versus reward. The ending to class was definitely a change-up from prior weeks but it was well-received, and helped the kids practice their form and precision in preparation for the September 26 Jamboree.

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Week 8 Recap from Marcy: Family Day!

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Week 8 Recap from Marcy: Family Day!

This past Saturday marked one of the season's most special days: Family Day! Held at each KCTL site, this is a day when students can invite any relative to class--parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins--to participate in family-based games and activities. The objective of Family Day is to create a friendly, non-competitive environment for our students and their families to be active together. Marcy certainly had a blast during this especially awesome class.

Marcy-Family-Day

Marcy-Family-Day

We were pleased to have about 30 children and their family members with us on the tennis courts at Marcy. Everyone remained upbeat and energized thanks to the music blasting from the boombox! Several kids were already out in full force by 12:30 because they were so excited for the class.

After stretching and warming up, we played two popular group games: Drop the Racquet and Centipede. Then we broke out into stations for some additional games.

The Obstacle Course station had an added twist this week; students had to navigate through the course holding a ball on their racquets. Brave kids were encouraged to try it on one leg!

At a Serving station, students and family members practiced serving the ball to each other. This was Marcy's first introduction to serves this season.

A lot of students really impressed us at the Targets Station, where they practiced forehands and backhands. Some of the younger, newer children are making tremendous strides in their groundstrokes.

We noticed similar progress at the Mini Tennis station, where the kids worked on rallying with one another and keeping the ball in the court.

On the big court, students and family members played a game called Balance and Flick the Ball, in which teams pair up, stand three feet apart, and try to flick the ball to each other without letting the racquet drop to the ground.

Gary led the off-court discussion on preparation for Davis Cup, scheduled for August 1! Davis Cup is a doubles tournament among all five KCTL sites. Since each site will represent a different country, the day combines competitive play with a lesson in geography. Marcy selected Italy during their off-court session with Gary.

We wrapped up with a giant game of Breakout, in which the kids were really pumped to show their family members what they've learned so far this season. Thank you to all parents and relatives who came out to support the kids at Family Day!

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#IServeBecause: Sheiliana's Story

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#IServeBecause: Sheiliana's Story

Seven-year-old Sheiliana is an energetic, talkative, and friendly student at Marcy Tennis Club. A natural storyteller with ample KCTL experience under her belt, Sheiliana was delighted to fill us in on her student experience. Her enthusiastic feedback is a heartwarming affirmation of the weekly program's positive effects.

How did you find out about the tennis program?

I was walking past the Marcy tennis court with my mom. I saw a lot of kids playing together and hitting tennis balls. I said to myself, "I want to be a part of that." So, I told my mom, "That looks like fun! I want to do that." My mom signed me up that day.

When was that? How long have you been playing tennis with KCTL?

I was five years old when I first came here, so this is my third summer playing tennis.

In which areas of tennis have you most improved?

I have gotten a lot better at hitting forehands and volleys. My footwork is better too; I am faster on the court.

What do you think you need to improve?

Backhands are very hard for me. I need to work on them.

Do you ever play tennis outside of our Saturday classes? Who do you play with?

Yes, I play tennis outside of class with my mom. We use the big court at Marcy when it is available. If it is not, we hit against the wall on the handball court.

So your mom is a tennis player, too? Will you bring her to Family Day?

Yes, but I was a tennis player first. I have been teaching her how to play. And, yes, I want to bring her to Family Day!

What is your favorite part about KCTL?

I get to meet new kids and make new friends. I have made so many new friends here! I also get to learn how to play tennis and I really like it. I want to play tennis for the rest of my life.

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#IServeBecause: Omar Bailey's Story

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#IServeBecause: Omar Bailey's Story

Meet Omar Bailey: a new volunteer at Kings County Tennis League's Marcy site. A Brooklynite by way of Florida in his early 30s, Omar is a self-described tennis fanatic who discovered the sport only a few years ago. Having grown up with almost no exposure to tennis, Omar is ecstatic to share his newly found passion with children who--if not for individuals like himself--would otherwise miss out on the game's enormous benefits.

What sports did you and your friends/peers play as children?

Just basketball, baseball, and football. Not tennis.

So, what, if anything, did you know about tennis as a child?

I knew of Serena and Venus Williams, but I didn't know much about the game. I only watched from time to time if my father happened to be watching, which was not often.

How and when did you discover tennis?

Three years ago, my girlfriend, Allison, introduced me to the sport. We went to the US Open together, where I witnessed firsthand how powerful the tennis pros are. I fell in love with the game immediately.

How did tennis become a passion following that introduction?

Just a few days after the US Open, Allison and I bought tennis racquets to play ourselves and I really enjoyed it. From there, I enrolled in lessons, began watching professional matches religiously (I even subscribed to the Tennis Channel!), and became obsessed with everything tennis. With lots of practice, I've advanced my NTRP rating to a respectable 3.5. I play in two different local tennis leagues and actually won the final tournament in one of them this past winter. I'm excited about improving my game every time I play.

What personal benefits have you experienced as a result of playing the sport?

The mental battle of tennis is the aspect that has helped me the most. I'm already a pretty patient guy, but playing tennis--playing for yourself--really makes you focus and think step-by-step about what you want and need to accomplish. The other benefit is the exercise. Tennis is a great, enjoyable way to work out and stay in shape. I would prefer to play tennis for two hours than run on a treadmill any day.

How has your experience as a volunteer at Marcy been so far?

It's been great! The kids are awesome and I can see that they are enjoying their new surroundings and playing tennis. I was very impressed with one of our recent off-court discussions about anger management. The kids were so open to sharing their feelings and thoughts and articulated themselves so well. That was sort of my "aha moment." It became clear to me what we are trying to accomplish and teach the kids other than just playing tennis.

How have the absence of tennis in your childhood and your subsequent discovery of the game influenced your role as a volunteer/mentor at KCTL?

I grew up in South Florida amongst tennis courts and the USTA facilities where all the top players would train--but I had no clue that I was within arms reach of the sport. I would not want a child to miss out on tennis if I knew they would enjoy it. The nice thing about tennis is that it does not matter how tall, fast, or strong you are, although those things can be helpful. You just have to show up and be willing to listen, learn, and have fun.

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Week 2 Recap from Marcy

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Week 2 Recap from Marcy

With about 30 students and 10 volunteers, Marcy Tennis Club was swarming as usual on Saturday, June 6. The lesson theme was Racquet and Ball Control, which we taught through exercises to strengthen dexterity and to facilitate comfort with tennis equipment.

marcy-week-2

marcy-week-2

Five groups of students moved about four unique Racquet and Ball Control stations and a fifth station that was used for the off-court discussion. Each student group was accompanied by one volunteer who followed them through the rotation. Meanwhile, one to two volunteers remained fixed at each station. This format provided students with constant attention from a single individual throughout the class along with detailed instruction and feedback at each station.

On one small court, the students practiced "Bump-Up and Tap-Downs" to master controlling small ball movements with their racquets.

On another small court, the name of the game was "Partner Bump-Ups," in which a pair of teammates stood about 10 feet apart and passed a ball back and forth using their racquets. The objective was to let the ball bounce on the rubber dot placed on the ground halfway between theme.

A third small court was used for a racquet-free, ball-free activity: footwork! Though nothing to do with tennis equipment, footwork exercises a ladder are great for improving agility.

Lastly, the big court was designated for Split Steps, and was far and away the students' favorite station. Here, the students practiced preparing for their groundstrokes with the proper movement--a split step--and enjoyed the excitement of attempting full-depth shots on a real tennis court.

In the shade, Marcy's Site Coordinator, Gary, conducted the off-court discussion on Healthy Lifestyles. The students reviewed the components of the Food Pyramid and shared their opinions regarding a list of health advice from tennis professionals.

We concluded with a mega game of breakout--and split steps were mandatory! So if players didn't start their groundstroke with a split step, they were automatically out! With so many participants, we only had time for one round. We look forward to resuming next week with our first lesson on forehands. Go Marcy!

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A Wonderful Reminder of Our Purpose

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A Wonderful Reminder of Our Purpose

What a great start to the 2015 Kings County Tennis League (KCTL) season this past Saturday. Bringing tennis to the kids, as our motto goes. KCTL now operates programs in five Brooklyn communities in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. I stopped by Marcy Playground for opening day to experience the program first hand. What an uplifting experience it was.

marcy-opener-2015-student

marcy-opener-2015-student

The weather was perfect, turnout was high and the court was full of smiling faces. Some were new and others were returning for another year of the program. And the volunteers were as upbeat and enthusiastic as ever. (We have the best volunteers in the New York, hands down!)

The highlight for me was meeting the mother of a girl who has joined the program this year. We chatted while she watched the activities and cheered her daughter on. Her daughter had shown an interest in learning tennis last year, but the season was already nearing an end. She made sure to get registered early to take part this season.

I learned that her daughter also takes piano lessons and learns ballet. “I want her to be exposed to many different activities. When she gets older she can choose what she prefers, but I want her to have options,” the mother explained. I was more than a little impressed, as I wondered if I was looking at a future tennis pro, breakout musician or ballerina. Or even all three.

The conversation brought me back to the organization’s purpose – to empower youth in Brooklyn to learn tennis as both a healthy activity and also to impart life skills. And as this parent so eloquently explained how she wants her daughter to have options to help her make future life decisions, I was reminded of just how important KCTL is to our local communities. And that in turn inspires me to look for creative new ways to support and expand this important program. If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them. Please let me know at cmcmanus@kingscountytennisleague.org.

Author Chris McManus is a member of the Board of Directors for Kings County Tennis League.

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Class Recap: The End

At Marcy:

To celebrate the fact that the students are "graduating" from another year of KCTL, we played a graduation-themed game where the kids completed various challenges to progress through different levels of education. To graduate high school, they had to hit a forehand past the service line. To graduate college, they had to hit a backhand past the service line. To get a masters degree, they had to hit three volleys. To get a PhD, students had to sustain a rally with a volunteer for 10 shots total (meaning they had to successfully hit the ball 5x). To become President of the US, they had to hit a target. After everyone successfully became president, we played a rallying game with the class and then played our final game of breakout.

At Tompkins:

We divided the kids based on age, and had them play/hit as many ball as possible as final preparation for next week's end-of-season tennis tournament. The kids hit against each other and then with volunteers. It's amazing to watch to see how their skills have improved since the beginning of the season--I'm really looking forward to seeing them play against the other kids next week. We held a large, off-court talk, where each student talked about what tennis (and the weekly classes) meant to them. As a volunteer, it was incredibly touching to hear how much the kids enjoyed tennis, learning something new each week, and befriending the volunteers. We ended our final class of the season with a site favorite, an oldie but a goodie, a big group game of breakout!

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Off-Court Talk: Stress Management

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Off-Court Talk: Stress Management

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Stress Management was a timely off-court discussion topic this past Saturday at Marcy, where our students were about two weeks into the school year and two weeks away from the end-of-season Jamboree tournament. In between match play station drills and games, the kids chatted with Gary at a court-side picnic table. The table seats about four to five people comfortably, so Saturday’s conversations were a bit smaller and more personalized than usual, allowing for greater individual contribution from each student.

The small groups spoke extensively about school-related stress. “Is a particular subject going to stress you out?” Gary asked to introduce the concept. Yes, while the kids are mostly comfortable with the upcoming school year, they remarked that they’re worried about one or two classes, and they agreed that stress is no fun. Stress causes poor health, they explained; stomach problems, bad eating habits and disorders and insufficient sleep are often the products of one’s nerves. Fortunately, the kids keenly understand how stress also motivates them to do better and promotes a sense of urgency. Moreover, they’re all well prepared to handle academic stress effectively. The Marcy kids pointed to music, friends, teachers and guidance counselors as their favorite resources for stress reduction.

Gary connected the upcoming Jamboree to the previous reflections on stress. “Will you be worried on Game Day? Will the competition and the eyes of your friends, family and other spectators cause you stress?” Luckily everyone agreed that nerves in sports are a positive thing in that they promote healthy competition.They closed out the conversations with reminders to practice good sportsmanship in the tournament.

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Week 17: Class Recap

At Marcy:

We hosted students from Sumner Tennis Club AND we had almost a full house at Marcy. So class was a very large group of students--the more the merrier, right?! Despite lousy weather, we managed to squeeze in almost a full class before it rained. We did stations including: footwork obstacle course, groundstroke target hitting, rallying, match play, and various "racquet-free" hand-eye coordination games for some of the smaller kids. Then everyone joined up on the big court for a game of breakout, which we didn't finish--in part because of the rain, but also because site leader Maayan told us if anyone caught a ball hit by Bryce (Sumner's site leader and very strong player,) everyone on the "catching" side of the net would be given amnesty to return to hitting. On our fourth try, a student caught one (!) and everyone scrambled back to the safe side, then shortly after, it began to rain.

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Off-Court: Art Project

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Off-Court: Art Project

Off-court sessions at KCTL are typically reserved for verbal expression through guided conversation, but this past Saturday at Marcy, our players expressed themselves artistically instead. Working with one blank canvas and just six paint pens of a limited, basic color scheme (red, yellow, green, blue, black and white) our kids turned the prompt--"What does KCTL mean to you?"--into a mini masterpiece.

In between rallying and serving practice, the Marcy kids took turns contributing to the canvas. By the end of the class, they had collaborated to create a beautiful montage of tennis-related illustrations, as well as some tennis terminology and even a few professions of love for the game! It seems like our students at Marcy are not only athletes, but also artists! Just see for yourself:

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Want to see the final masterpiece? See it first at the KCTL 5th Annual Fundraiser on Wed. Sept 3 to see Marcy's art board as well as the art board from Tompkins, Lafayette Gardens and Sumner sites!

Eventbrite - Love All, New York: 5th Annual Youth Tennis Fundraiser

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