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Tompkins Tennis Club

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 14 Recap from Tompkins

Week 14 Recap from Tompkins

After a missed class in observance of Labor Day Weekend, Team Tompkins returned to the court on Saturday, September 10 for Academy Day. The goal for each student was to transition from a First Grader to a Ph.D. graduate by successfully performing a specific tennis skill at each station, which represented a grade level.

The skill for each grade level became increasingly difficult throughout the game. We were proud to see that a high number of students made it beyond Eighth Grade and into High School! Even better, two of our students performed well enough to be "accepted" into College! Site Leader Tina said she could sense the frustration when it took some students significantly longer than others complete certain grades. On the bright side, though, no one ever gave up, which was very inspirational to Tina.

For the off-court discussion, Tompkins hosted a volunteer guest speaker, Jerald, who spoke to the students about police-community relations. He wanted to know how the kids felt about the police and what they would like to ask them if they had the chance.

Jerald then revealed that there would be a police meet-and-greet at the upcoming Jamboree Tournament and encouraged the students to ask the questions proposed in class. A big part of his presentation was to help the students to see the police as friends and protectors instead of foes.

Week 5: Recap from Tompkins (Family Day)

Week 5: Recap from Tompkins (Family Day)

Saturday, June 25 marked our annual Family Day initiative, a day on which students can invite a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, or friend to their KCTL site. As usual, we had a strong turnout from family members--both those who were daring enough to join the kids on the court, and those who preferred to cheer from the sidelines. We appreciated all of our special visitors, no matter their level of participation!

At Tompkins, students practiced their groundstrokes--both forehands and backhands--to combine lessons from recent weeks. The kids were proud to show off their improvement to their family members.

The off-court session wrapped up June's Healthy Choices Month. Kate, Tompkins' Educational Coordinator, instructed the students to explain what they had already learned about nutrition to their guests. Teaching others is the best way to reinforce what you have already learned!

Also during the off-court session, the students participated in the Fitness Challenge. Site Leader Tina remarked how proud she was of her students' abilities to perform push-ups, shuttle runs, and situps!

To wrap up the session, the class played two family-friendly games: Caterpillar and Breakout. A few of the older students stepped in as leaders during these games to assist the younger students, demonstrating big leaps in their maturity and independence.

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 13 Recap from Tompkins

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Week 13 Recap from Tompkins

Tompkins Tennis Club had a mini field trip this past Saturday--to Marcy Playground. Yup, Team Tompkins had a combined class with their neighbors--and rivals--and friends--at Marcy Tennis Club.

Bruce and Tompkins kids

Bruce and Tompkins kids

The volunteers at Marcy had already set up several stations by the time we arrived from Tompkins, so we just jumped right in. On the main tennis court and on the blacktop, we rotated through King/Queen of the Court, Forehands, Backhands, Serving, and Rallying stations. Tompkins and volunteers split up evenly, so each station had about an equal showing from each site. As a result, everyone had the opportunity to meet new people and play against new opponents during class. Also, because Marcy is this year's Davis Cup winner, playing with the best team in the league inspired Tompkins to work harder and play their absolute best.

Site Coordinators Gary and Renata led the off-court discussion, the subject of which was Good Sportsmanship. The students were invited to share how they feel in losing situations, and how to respond in cases of defeat. The conversation is especially important and timely as we approach the annual end-of-season tournament. In addition to talking, the kids unleashed some creativity with some markers-on-canvas artwork.

Tompkins Site Leader Tina says the highlight of the day was that her kids had the opportunity to play on a real court, which their site does not have. The students at Tompkins, she says, do just fine on their makeshift courts divided by portable nets, but the exposure to a full-sized tennis court ignited their energy.

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#IServeBecause: Renata Thakurdyal's Story

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#IServeBecause: Renata Thakurdyal's Story

This week, we catch up with Renata Thakurdyal, Tompkins Site Coordinator. A first-generation American born in Queens to Guyanese parents, Renata started playing tennis as a young girl in her own backyard. As she grew up, so did her love for the game. Renata describes tennis as more than just a sport. It brought her motivation, enjoyment, and friendship. And now she hopes to bring those same opportunities every Saturday to KCTL.

When did you pick up tennis and why do you continue to play?

I started playing tennis at the age of 12 in my middle school backyard where there were five tennis courts. The pull for me was the challenge of a new sport under the boiling sun with awesome new friends. Friendship was a major motivational factor for playing tennis--and wanting to get better. I played every chance I had during the school year and in the summers for no less than seven hours a day, for many years. I still continue to play because I love to be active and tennis is in my blood, swinging the racquet feels great. Competition is fun, but it is more the body in motion that appeals to me.

When did you learn about KCTL and what motivated you to volunteer?

I learned about KCTL from a flyer in a coffee/ice cream shop where I was working part-time during the summer of 2014. It was lovely to find a program where I could play tennis with the youth and be a positive influence for them. I have been a literacy educator for many years and used to help with the younger students when I played tennis in high school. I thought this was a great way to be in touch with the sport even more. Plus, I love grassroots initiatives for the youth.

What's been your most memorable & best experience with KCTL so far?

My most memorable moment with KCTL was the Jamboree of 2014; it got rained out, but we held the ceremony anyway. It was magical to see the coaches from all the sites and so many students come out! One of the participants from Tompkins came running up to me as I was leaving and gave me an extra hug, which was so nice. I knew I definitely wanted to come back for the next season and that Jamboree made the desire concrete. I got to see many of those students from Tompkins again this year which is special.

If you could give one piece of advice to the kids, what would it be?

Critical advice for all my students: Know your resources. Where you can go to access opportunities and get the information you need. We live in a city brimming with potential and few students gain access because they do not adequately research the possibilities, the best of these are not largely advertised. Knowing your resources puts you in a position to take advantage of opportunities that no one else can tell you about. Listen with an open mind and be tolerant, you will learn.

If there was one professional tennis player you could play doubles with, who would it be and why?

It'd be awesome to play doubles with Gaël Sébastien Monfils. I love that he is francophone and seems to have a fun personality. He is a dynamic tennis player. I remember watching him play when I was younger and being thrilled.

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#IServeBecause: Bruce Thongsack's Story

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#IServeBecause: Bruce Thongsack's Story

We’re rewarded this week with a friendly reminder of why we continue to serve, give back, and dedicate our time each Saturday from upstate native and first-year Tompkins volunteer, Bruce Thongsack. Though, from his answers, you’d think he’s been involved with the program for more than a couple of weeks!

His enthusiasm and passion out there on the courts is genuinely felt through his voice and, more often than not, accompanied with a smile. We catch up with Bruce about how he was introduced to tennis, why he continues to play, and what lead him to be involved with KCTL today.

What (or who) influenced you to pick up tennis?

My brother and I grew up obsessed with sports. We watched them all and played what we could. One day, I found myself watching a new game on TV. It was a tennis match between John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. WHAT. IS. THIS!?!? Who is this intense American guy? Who is this European dude with the poise and precision? (And why do the announcers keep talking about love? GROSS!) I was fascinated. Soon after, I became involved with a community program similar to KCTL and picked up my first racquet.

Out of all the volunteering opportunities in New York, why did you choose KCTL?

I love tennis and I could never turn down the opportunity to work with the greatest, most endlessly amusing young tennis fanatics in New York. For all intents and purposes, I was one of these children. I was lucky enough to be involved with a program like KCTL and it expanded my worldview far beyond the confines of my small Upstate New York hometown.

What made you want to give back to your community?

I come from an immigrant family that received kindness from our adopted community, so I feel a strong obligation to pay it forward. My social-justice-tiger parents were leaders in a number of communities--from our Buddhist temple to the greater Laotian diaspora. They did not tolerate ignorance or myopia and instilled in us the belief that if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

If there was only one piece of advice you would like to give the kids, what would it be?

I'll out-silly all you honey badgers! Just kidding. Sort of. The real answer is the same thing I repeat a hundred times every Saturday afternoon: Keep working--you've got this, baby! Effort and confidence are transformative; I see it happen every week.

Who's your favorite tennis player? Why?

This is an impossible question for me. I could go on for days. So, I'll give you three. First, there's the legend Althea Gibson. She was a trailblazer who broke barriers, won Grand Slams, and then went on to excel in professional golf AFTER her tennis career. When Ms. Gibson won her first Wimbledon in 1958, the trophy was presented to her by Queen Elizabeth. Not too shabby for a girl from Harlem. Then there's Michael Chang, winner of the 1989 French Open and the youngest men's Grand Slam champion in history. He was 17! It would be blasphemous of me to omit the guy who basically convinced my parents to let my brother and me play organized sports. Finally, there is Serena Williams, the reigning queen of tennis. It's been amazing to watch her emerge from her sister's shadow and become the dominant force in the game. Her talent is undeniable--she is truly awe-inspiring. Bonus favorites: John McEnroe (loved his ferociousness); Andre Agassi (In the 1990 French Open final, he wore a wig!)

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Week 7 Recap from Tompkins

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Week 7 Recap from Tompkins

We almost had another rainout this Saturday, but, fortunately, the sun came out just in time for the start of class. With the threat of a weather-related cancellation, though, Tompkins Tennis Club had a relatively small showing of six children. On the bright side, less children facilitated individualized attention from our volunteers and staff.

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The day's lesson combined groundstrokes and serves for the older, more skilled children. As mentioned, low student attendance allowed for some one-on-one coaching. The advanced students received personal instruction from volunteers to strengthen their forehands, backhands and serves. Meanwhile, the younger students player fruit salad, a favorite group game among smaller kids that reminds them about healthy food.

The off-court discussion for the day addressed Learning Styles. The students were encouraged to describe the scenarios in which they can most easily take in new information. What a pertinent topic for a day that included plenty of learning!

Tompkins Site Leader Tina pointed out one female student's noticeable improvement as the highlight of the class. The student, who, in weeks past, has been very frustrated with herself, made major gains this week in hitting her single-handed forehand and double-handed backhand. Tina recognized that this child has begun developing more self-confidence as a result of this physical accomplishment.

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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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FB_MARCY_001

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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Season Opener Recap from Tompkins

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Season Opener Recap from Tompkins

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.

tompkins-opener-2015

tompkins-opener-2015

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!

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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: Fitness & Nutrition

This week for our off-court talk, we focused on Fitness & Nutrition. We discussed what are healthy foods, and what is consider not healthy for them. We also talked about how many meals per day we should eat each, and how the size of the portions we eat also matters in maintaining good health. We talked about the effects drinking plenty of water verses drinking countless cans of soda or sugary juices, and how water with every meal helps their complexion and helps cleanse their body. We discussed hydration verses dehydration and the effects of each. At Tompkins, we provided bananas and carrots to the students as part of the discussion on nutrition--as well as hummus, which many of the students were willing to try!

Regarding the Fitness discussion, we found out that many of our students are very active in one way or another... many mentioned that they exercise with family members and play other sports. This topic was one that the students really enjoyed expressing their views about, so much, that we'll likely revisit it again next week.

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Week 11: A Little Bit of Everything

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Week 11: A Little Bit of Everything

From Tompkins:

Tompkins had a great turn out this week. To warm up we ran relay races and tried out a new obstacle course with jumping jacks, figure eights (for footwork) and ball bounces (for racket control.) We opted to split the kids up into two groups--boys and girls. One group worked on backhands and forehands while the other group worked on proper volley form (punching the ball, stepping towards the net), then they switched. At the end of the day, everyone joined up together and the kids played rounds of King/Queen of the Court against themselves with a volunteer feeding.

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From Marcy:

It was another play date for Marcy this week with Sumner Tennis Club joining them at the Marcy tennis court. The two teams rotated through the five stations per usual. Volleys at Station 1--we focused on emphasizing proper movement and form and kept the pace quick so the kids had to keep moving. Station 2 was a kid-favorite: Beat the Pro where students rally against a volunteer. Station 3 was the obstacle course where kids worked on footwork and general fitness. On the main court (Station 4), students worked on hitting balls with movement--baseline stroke, approach shot, volley with an emphasis on split-step and side steps. Station 5 was the off-court discussion. This week's topic was on nutrition. Read more about the off-court talk in Thursday's post.

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Week 9: Playing at the Net aka How to Volley

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Week 9: Playing at the Net aka How to Volley

From Marcy

This week our focus was on introduction to Volleys/Footwork. Station 1) was used to introduce the proper technique and stance. Station 2) was the volley & catch station. Station 3) was footwork and agility. Station 4) on the Main Court put into play all the skills taught at the other three stations. Station 5) was the off court discussion group.

From Tompkins

This week, we had a lower turnout of kids than normal, but it gave us an opportunity for the volunteers to work one-one-one with a kid. First, we taught them how to volley--to step up to the net and hit the ball over with a quick "punch" rather than a full stroke like a forehand or backhand. The kids took to it immediately and really enjoyed the practice. After having them hit forehand and backhand volleys, the kids chose a volunteer to partner up with and we played a modified version of King/Queen of the Court, where the winning team played up to the net and responded with volleys.

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Week 5 Recap: Switching between Forehands & Backhands

From Marcy

Being that Marcy court is under renovation(!) we had to improvise and utilize what readily available space we had. We had 15 students and eight volunteers on Saturday. For this session the main areas of focus was of course the continuation of the forehand. And we added the proper technique and form for hitting the backhand. This session also included one footwork and one agility drill station, and for our younger students of the game, we had various relay races, which they loved!

From Tompkins

Tompkins class had a slow start as their was a block party happening around the corner. But eventually the kids showed up and we broke them into three sections by skill level -- advanced, intermediate and beginners. The advanced students worked on agility, footwork and improving their forehand and backhand techniques. The intermediate students hit a ton of forehands and backhands, with a special focus of keeping their feet moving. The younger kids played a few different games and worked on hand-eye coordination.

From Sumner

This week we continued practicing the forehand technique but the backhand technique was the primary focus. The student did relays, beat the pro and a fun game of pacman that everyone enjoyed. The off court discussion went over the topic of family and what their value systems are as well as their individual experiences had with family and friends.

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