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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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Author Chris McManus is a member of the Board of Directors for Kings County Tennis League.
Tompkins Tennis Club had a spectacular start to the season on Saturday, May 30!
10 students bright and ready to play, accompanied by five dedicated volunteers, participated in a series of activities and drills designed to introduce new students to tennis and to refresh the skills of our returned students.
We started off with running and stretching, followed by a racquet and ball control drills, all as a group.
After that, we initiated our off-court session, establishing the time as an open space for students, volunteers, and staff to share ideas. For this first session, we also conducted an ice-breaker that used movement and call/response to learn everyone's names.
Following off-court, students were divided into different stations: introduction to tennis and games. For introduction to tennis, students learned how to hold the racquet when not at play, how to move when hitting a forehand, and how to stay on their toes in ready position.
At the games station, students played lobster-trap, which also engaged the practice of being explosive and staying on their toes. They leapt forward to capture the balls tossed by volunteers by trapping the ball with their hands against the sweet spot of the racquets.
To close off the class, students regrouped to do an obstacle course where side-step footwork was emphasized. They then played a few rounds of Red Light, Green Light, balancing tennis balls on their racquets and moving forward or freezing according to the volunteers' instructions. The students enjoyed it; they were really expressive about succeeding and remaining in place or losing and having to start over again.
All of our students, new and returning, were excited about the start of the season, as were our volunteers about working with them. We're looking forward to next week. Go Tompkins!
It's almost time to rally at all five KCTL sites!
We'd like to extend an especially warm welcome to the new kids on the court, Jackie Robinson Tennis Club. As for everyone else--Marcy, Tompkins, Lafayette Gardens and Sumner--we're excited to have you back!
Our season begins this Saturday, May 30 at 1:00 PM; volunteers are expected to arrive by 12:00 PM. We look forward to seeing everyone then.
Parents, if you haven't yet registered your child, you can still sign up here to guarantee his or her spot.
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!
We're all excited about tomorrow's season opener, and I wanted to make a few suggestions to our youth athletes on how to prepare for tomorrow's class to get the most of out it and the whole season. Here are some easy tips for youth athletes:
1. Get a good night's sleep
Lay down your glowing screens and rest. Kids and teenagers should be getting about nine hours of sleep each night.
2. Eat right: Breakfast & Lunch
Eat a balanced breakfast when you wake up, for example: fortified cereal & milk or yogurt with fresh fruit and toast. (It's always healthier to eat fruit in it's original form than as juice.) Have a light lunch around 11:30am or noon, so you'll feel digested before class starts at 1pm. Lunch should consist of carbohydrates, so you have the energy to run around. Think: half a bagel with cream cheese, small amount of rice and beans, or a turkey sandwich.
3. Drink water
It's important to stay hydrated before, during and after exercise. How do you tell if you're hydrated? The pee test. Yup, that's right! If the color of your pee is pale yellow then you're hydrated. If it's dark yellow or smelly, you need more water.
4. Stay positive and focus on progress
It'll be exciting to be back on the courts, if you haven't been all winter. But whenever an athlete takes a break from a sport, he/she won't start back up again at their peak performance. The season opener isn't about being your very best on day 1, it's about preparing to do the work all season long to be your best on day 99. Stay positive and focus on your progress.
5. Practice they way you want to play
The way you practice will translate into your performance during games and tournaments. Commit yourself to long term results. Each class is structured to build upon the last class, so that you have all the fundamentals to play some really great tennis. Commit yourself to practicing the fundamentals, no matter how simple it may seem, and to coming to class each week. You get what you put into practice.
6. Develop a ritual.
It's the start of the season, so now is a great time to develop healthy, happy habits. When we start every class with a quick jog and stretching, that's a positive habit. When we end every class with a team cheer, that's a positive habit. Think of some habits you can do on your own before, during or after class to improve your class experience. Positive habits help keep you relaxed and calm because they make you feel comfortable in your surroundings.
Do your best. We can't wait to see you in class tomorrow! What time? 1pm! What time? 1 pm!