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Class Recaps

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 11 Recap from Sumner

Week 11 Recap from Sumner

We have a new tennis court (but its appearance is a surprise, hence the photo in this post)!

On Saturday, our group marked the important occasion by playing full court tennis against each other, which was a first at Sumner. We had four students and two volunteers (great job, Mike and Adam!) who paired up to play Champion of the Court for almost an hour. That was the first time our entire group played points against each other at Sumner, given the varying levels of abilities and ages.

Two of our youngest players experienced dramatic improvement over the course of one hour. Both girls, Nilda and Annahlis, bravely stepped up to play points with older players. Their confidence grew each time they made contact with the ball and they both surprised their opponents by hitting several winners.

We also practiced giving each other positive support when a player lost interest, felt discouraged or intimidated. All four Sumner students who participated on Saturday walked off the court with renewed confidence and enjoyment for the game.

It was an excellent day to mark an important moment for Sumner Tennis Club.

Week 10 Recap from Jackie Robinson

Week 10 Recap from Jackie Robinson

Saturday, August 5 at Jackie Robinson was a questionable day for tennis that ended up working out just perfectly in the end. Due to the weather, the site staff waited 15 minutes after the hour to begin, allowing more students to arrive. 

The students and volunteers began with a warm up of sprints, butt kicks, high knees, frog jumps, and side steps.

The class was then broken out into three courts according to skill, which ranged from beginner to intermediate. Team Jackie Robinson worked on the basics (forehand, backhand, and volleys) with a few games in between.

Educational Coordinators Christine and Michael led a great lesson where students used their artistic skills to design a puzzle piece with pictures that illustrated some of their interests or favorite things. 

The players ended with a game of tennis baseball, or Breakout, with the intermediate group and a game of Tennis Freeze Tag with the beginners.

Overall it was a rewarding experience for all participants!

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 6 Recap from Sumner

Week 6 Recap from Sumner

Sumner was full of milestones and fun on Saturday, July 8.

Because of the heat, we had activities in the shade to rehydrate, refuel, and create. Some students made their own breeze in between tennis activities by skating around the court on their scooter and snake board. Others got together and jumped with a long rope while our Sumner artistic crew created a tennis racquet art exhibit with sidewalk chalk .Shonda led the group in a timely conversation about healthy and peaceful ways to handle bullying. 

Our focus this week was learning about the importance of the “first step” in tennis. We warmed up with the "caterpillar" game to practice our split step and then we progressed to eye foot coordination games by rolling balls between students’ legs with their backs turned. As soon as they saw the ball rolling (or thrown over their head!), they sprinted to see how quickly they could catch up to grab it.

Every week, Sumner’s footwork skills get better and better because students are recognizing first-hand how much better they play when they stay on their toes and react quickly to the ball.

Our rallies are also getting longer! Mike’s court reached 34 hits in a row and Lauren’s court reached 18 in a row. Adam was instrumental in maintaining students' enthusiasm and focus during the games and coaching great volley technique.

All of our volunteers are bringing students’ tennis to new levels each week and it’s an honor to be a part of the development at Sumner 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 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 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

Summer Season Opener 2017


Summer Season Opener 2017

Our students, their families, and volunteers made strong showings at all sites for our Saturday, June 3 Summer Season Opener.

Lessons prioritized the technicalities of tennis footwork, forehand groundstrokes, and background groundstrokes. Youth participants ranged vastly in levels of experience. Some students were completely new to the sport and required close instruction, while others retained impressive muscle memory from the Winter Season at Pratt that ended just two months ago. The majority of participants, though, had not played with KCTL since 2016 and were eager to grab their racquets and resume their game.

The off-court discussions were all about introductions and setting expectations. Students and volunteers introduced themselves to one another and learned about the structure of the season. This year, the educational portions of class will heavily incorporate lessons in STEM. Additionally, each student received a punchcard that their Educational Coordinator will use to track their attendance. When students reach certain benchmarks in classes attended, they will receive prizes. The off-court sessions wrapped up with surveys about expectations for what students hope to accomplish in the next four months.

Site staff and volunteers alike are excited to help the kids advance with deeper tennis knowledge like mental toughness, learning how to score, being positive with each other, serving, and agility. Here's to another great season!


Recap: Winter Season Opener

Recap: Winter Season Opener

We welcomed our students back to the tennis courts—indoors!—on Saturday, February 4 at Pratt Institute to commence our first Winter Tennis Season.

Both sessions—ages 9 and under and ages 10 and up—were a lot of fun and very successful. The students were thrilled to be back on the court and were especially happy about the new facility.

The classes began with reviews of basic tennis skills and social norms or tennis etiquette. Led by staff members Lucca and Ari, we reinforced expectations for grips, stances, and swing patterns. The skills recap was helpful for the kids' adjustment to a new tennis surface. Unlike an outdoor tennis court or blacktop, the ball bounces lower on an indoor court, so we emphasized the importance of early swing preparation and bending the knees for groundstrokes. Social norms for the kids include hugging their racquets when they aren't hitting and practicing safety when others are on the court.

After getting a feel for the new, challenging tennis surface, we moved onto rotating stations with fast-paced tennis drills. And, of course, we wrapped up with a game of Breakout at the very end of each session.

View more photos from the Winter Season Opener on Facebook.

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 12 Recap from Sumner

Week 12 Recap from Sumner

Sumner students were excited to be back on court after having last class off due to extreme heat.

Class began with the students and volunteers running a few laps around the court and some careful stretching. Afterwards, the students were divided into two groups based on skill level and age. 

The stations of the week were Fitness and Rallying. At Fitness, the kids jump roped, practiced sit-ups and push-ups, and competed in a ladder challenge. The Rallying station took a "beat the pro" format; the children played out points against Mike, a volunteer.

In the off-court session, the students completed individual surveys about grit and resilience to reinforce the concepts and to help the organization's leaders assess their learning.

After off-court, Sumner concluded with their favorite games: Champs and Challengers, followed by Breakout.

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: Tennis Balls to Think About Thinking

#NothingTopsTennis: Tennis Balls to Think About Thinking

At Jackie Robinson, Educational Coordinator Christine led a session about cognitive awareness or, more simply, "thinking about thinking."

Much like how the students at Marcy learned about the concept—divided into pairs with only one member given a tennis ball—Jackie Robinson's empty-handed players were instructed to get the bright yellow sphere from their partners in 30 seconds by "any means necessary." With the exception making physical violence totally off-limits, no further rules were given.

Many of the children ended up chasing each other around the tennis courts. They recouped and Christine had them share how they tried to obtain the ball and discuss which methods worked best.

After some conversation, Christine finally asked who simply requested the ball from their partner, rather than trying to grab it out of his or her hands. To her delight, many did in fact "ask" for the ball, indicating a high level of cognitive awareness.

Following the tennis ball activity, Christine noticed how one of Jackie Robinson's most energetic students, Joey, has shown maturity and cognitive development—particularly in his "assistant coaching" stints. When he helped Michele organize the class, Christine asked, "Joey, how did you get all the kids to follow you? Did you shout?"  

"No, I just asked them individually," he responded proudly.

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.