KCTL's 2017 Fall Classic Photo Gallery

Saturday, November 4, ended up being a beautiful day for KCTL to hold our 2nd Annual Fall Classic Tennis Tournament. Kids from around the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and beyond gathered at Marcy Playground for an afternoon of friendly competition in what proved to be an appropriate finale to this year's Fall After-School Tennis Program.

Below is a photo slideshow of the day courtesy of Ephraim Kirkwood.

KCTL Facebook Fundraiser - A How To Guide

KCTL Facebook Fundraiser - A How To Guide

As you probably gathered from recent e-mails, social media posts, and our transition to year-round programming, 2017 has been an incredibly eventful and successful year for KCTL. Here is a brief selection of highlights that made 2017 so special:

We renovated two of our sites- Tompkins and Sumner.jpg

This is just a small sampling of everything that happened this year, so we now turn our attention to 2018 where there is a way you can help us provide even more programming and continue to grow KCTL. Our major goals are to renovate Lafayette Gardens, increase tennis and educational programming, and to partner with an early education program to offer a new KCTL "Pee Wee" tennis class!

If you are on Facebook and want to help try and raise funds for KCTL and our goals for 2018, there is a very simple and effective way to do this. As the year nears an end we are reaching out to all our past donors with a final ask for 2017. Below is a document that explains the steps:

KCTL Facebook Fundraiser Guide - Volunteers.jpg

KCTL 2nd Annual Fall Classic Tennis Tournament

KCTL 2nd Annual Fall Classic Tennis Tournament

This past Saturday, November 4th, KCTL’s 2nd Annual Fall Classic took place at Marcy Playground in what turned out to be a great finale to this year’s Fall After-School Program. With two divisions split by age and ability, intermediate and advanced, the tournament itself was a great representation of the five, fun-filled weeks of lessons and friendly play that all the kids worked so hard in.


With the fall program being just one pillar of our recently implemented year-round programming, all the students have improved so much and with that their commitment levels have increased, too. This commitment is just one of the factors that led to this year's Fall Classic being such a success.

An exciting thing to note about this weekend is that after plenty of practice during the Fall After-School program, the advanced students served overhead in their matches. This is an important step in these young player’s development for it will prepare them for when they play USTA tournaments in the near future.


Additionally, this weekend featured a first for our organization: KCTL invited students from another tennis organization to compete. We were thrilled and delighted to have four players from our friends, HQ Tennis.

Here are the results of the tournament:

The intermediate division was won by Jamar Thomas (aged 9) from HQ Tennis, who defeated Katelynn Espinosa (aged 7) from Sumner Tennis Club. The advanced final was won by Jonathan Del Rosario (aged 12) from Marcy Tennis Club, who defeated AJ Esperanza (aged 12) from Sumner Tennis Club. 


Congratulations to all competitors for a fantastic end to the Fall After-School Program and a big thanks to staff members Adam Joyce and Gary Robinson for running such a great Program. Go KCTL!

Weeks 1-3 Recap of KCTL'S Fall After-School Tennis Program

Rolling into the second half of KCTL’s Fall After-School Program, site leader Adam Joyce has covered three overarching aspects of tennis: preparation, margin for error, and tactics. 

Here is how Adam has incorporated these important themes into class so far:


In the first week, we discussed the many ways to be prepared to play tennis. We practice often, and we practice hard, so we're ready to meet challenges on the court. We also think ahead about what we need to do on the court in order to meet our goals.

Most important, we discussed and worked on all the ways to prepare to make every shot. We stay focused on the ball and our position on the court. We stay in the ready position until we know where the ball is going. We take the racket back early. We move our feet early and use proper technique to sidestep to the ball. And we hustle to make sure the ball stays in front of us.

Most of our drills emphasized techniques of groundstrokes, volleys, and serves. Coaches feed the balls to students and worked on the most basic components of these shots. We ran some sprints to demonstrate sidestepping and backpedaling, and we ended each day with competitions like king of the court and breakout.



Once you learn the mechanics of strokes, you can start to think about how to hit the ball into the court consistently. This requires attention to margin for error. There are many elements to achieving margin. The low-to-high stroke ensures height above the net. Aiming cross court gives you a longer distance to hit into. And controlling your body - not rushing, not swinging hard, not running while swinging - makes it more likely that your shot will go in the direction you intend it to.

This week, we focused on the mechanics of hitting crosscourt, performing drills and playing games that reward those safe shots. We also worked on achieving height over the net, as well as depth. While we played singles competitions on the big court, we also played volley games in the handball area.



Because we are gearing up for a tournament on November 4, we have started to think about how to win points. The students first brainstormed about how we might try to win a point - aside from achieving margin fire error. They suggested: moving the opponent from side to side; not just following a recognizable pattern; hitting short balls; hitting deep balls; hitting to where the opponent is not.

We first practiced changing patterns by hitting two balls crosscourt and one down the line. We also played a game where one player hit crosscourt and the other went down the line.

Most important, we have been working on playing points against each other - especially starting with overhand serving. The players, from the advanced to the beginner - are getting the hang of how to rally and how to construct a point.

KCTL 2017 Jamboree Photo Gallery

On September 23, the weather around Brooklyn gave kids from around the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood a summer welcome as they trickled into the Marcy playground for the Kings County Tennis League's 8th Annual Youth Tournament & Community Jamboree.

As Michael and Kim prepared the tournament draw -- -- kids set up the courts, drilled and then competed in the single-elimination tournament for the 10-and-under division and a round robin for the 11-and-over group. Below is a photo slideshow of the day, including the final rounds and trophy presentation. 

Week 15 Recap: The 8th Annual KCTL Jamboree

On September 23, the weather around Brooklyn provided kids from around the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood with a summer welcome as they trickled into the Marcy playground for the Kings County Tennis League's 8th Annual Youth Tournament & Community Jamboree.

KCTL Program Manager David Webley arrived early to set up with the courts, as Michael Rojas, Educational Coordinator, and Kim Diehl, Sumner Site Leader, prepared the tournament draw: single-elimination for \]`the 10-and-under division and a round robin for the 11-and-over group.

Michael Rojas and Kim Diehl prepare the Jamboree tournament draw. 

Michael Rojas and Kim Diehl prepare the Jamboree tournament draw. 

"Dave ensured the kids had a competitive format, much like a USTA juniors tournament," said Rob Gerstman, the site leader of the Marcy Tennis Club, which had several competitive players with eyes on the trophy table. "But when the kids weren’t on the court, they were hanging out with their peers, making new friends, eating good food, getting their faces painted, having balloon swords made for them and cheering on other players."

After the players warmed up, the matches began -- and slowly, but surely the draw was whittled down to the finals, which took place onMarcy's Center Court. In the end, Jonathan and Xavier from the Marcy Club battled it out for the top prize, both hitting severe topspin and chasing down each other's drop shots. On their way to the top, they overcame Julius and Maya from Lafayette Gardens, Andre from Jackie Robinson and AJ from Sumner. 

Early rounds for the KCTL kids had the 10-and-under sector in serious competition. 

Early rounds for the KCTL kids had the 10-and-under sector in serious competition. 

"Dozens of families and students gathered around to witness some amazing tennis! Lots of positive energy, support and great tennis etiquette," Gerstman said. "It was incredible. KCTL has made such a difference, and the kids have been inspired to put in an effort, only matched by that of the volunteers."

Julius shows off a mean backhand in the semi-final round. 

Julius shows off a mean backhand in the semi-final round. 

The crowds gather to watch the final match between Xavier and Jonathan of Marcy. 

The crowds gather to watch the final match between Xavier and Jonathan of Marcy. 

After the championship, everyone gathered again for the award presentation, where Jonathan took the top trophy for winning the best of 3-set challenge. KCTL President and Founder Michael McCasland also presented plaques to one individual from each site who best represented the characteristics of KCTL. Smiles and cheers were had all around for the honorees. 

Michael McCasland, assisted by Marcy site leader, present trophies to the winners of the tournament and the kids who best embody KCTL principles. 

Michael McCasland, assisted by Marcy site leader, present trophies to the winners of the tournament and the kids who best embody KCTL principles. 

"No matter how you did in the tournament, all of you are winners, just for showing up, just for competing with pride and grace," McCasland said. "Billie Jean King has a saying: 'Pressure is a privilege.' You all accepted the pressure and the privilege, and we're all better for it."

Week 14 Recap from Lafayette Gardens

The final Lafayette Gardens class of the summer season began with a quick warm up before students were divided into groups. The more advanced students focused on one on one tournaments. Those waiting for their turn at a one on one either played doubles on a different court or practiced their form by hitting against the wall. Beginner students worked on their formand their ability to make contact with the ball at their courts. 

During the off-court session we discussed sportsmanship and how it can be be manifested at the Jamboree. At the end of class we played two different group tennis themed group games. A few students used the last 15 minutes to practice hitting with volunteers to get in more practice for the Jamboree. 

Once class ended, LG parents hosted a pizza party on the playground for students and volunteers. It was a great way to end the last class on the playground. 


Retro Racquet Bash 2017: Celebrating the Classic Pros and Feting Future Ones

Dave Family.jpg

On September 7, M1-5 Lounge was transformed from a swank TriBeCa club to 1970s Forest Hills, as the Kings County Tennis League (KCTL) held court to honor its players, revere in its 7th year and laud its future. 

The Retro Racquet Bash -- KCTL's annual 1970s tennis gala  -- drew more than 200 guests from the ranks of volunteers, parents and KCTL fans to drink, eat, try their best to look like Bjorn Brig and watch the women's U.S. Open Semifinal. While following Sloane Stephens -- previously ranked No. 973 in the world -- make quick work of No. 3 Venus Williams, KCTL fans dreamed of sending their charges to Flushing someday.

"With your help, we have had an amazingly successful year," said Michael McCasland, the founder and president of KCTL, before listing off the programs launched, courts restored and students reached, including two who earned scholarships to training academies. "We're not stopping until every kid in our neighborhoods has access to tennis."

Highlights of the night were in high supply -- as vintage racquets were passed around for a variety of creative party photos -- but many would say that hearing KCTL student-turned-volunteer Brandon Otero tell the story of how he came to KCTL and learned tennis marked the upmost  point of the evening. Otero now attends the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where he studies Business Administration. 

In addition to Otero, McCasland and Board Chair, Adam Stolz honored volunteers of the year, Chase Altneu, Ephraim Kirkwood and Krystal Atwater with hand-framed photographs of the KCTL teams. District 36 City Councilor Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., who represents Bedford Stuyvesant and northern Crown Heights, also received an award for his involvement with the court renovation and other KCTL projects. 

In 2017, KCTL reached 195 children, up 18 percent from 2016, and trained 126 volunteers. up 14 percent from 2016.  It has expanded to a comprehensive year-round program, formed Upswing, an enrichment program for our most talented and dedicated students, and introduced an all-girls tennis clinic called Go Girl Go! to foster self-confidence and a passion for physical activity among female students

Below are a few photos from the event. To order or view more, check out KCTL's Facebook Page!

Lauren Raffle.jpg
Racquets + Chase.jpg
Racquets Michal + Board.jpg
Vols Selling.jpg
Racquets Guitar.jpg
Speech City Council .jpg
Tennis Action.jpg
Party Time.jpg

Week 13 Recap from Marcy

This week, the Marcy Club reviewed techniques for the major components of the game and developed their skills in singles competition to prepare for the upcoming Jamboree on September 23rd.

Marcy also had a photographer from the Daily News come out for a story about KCTL that ran on Sunday, 10 September! A journalist interviewed several staff and players throughout the session and they had a good time talking tennis. Here is the story.

Among the volunteers, Olivia led the Ladder Station to focus on “court” movement with racquet preparation. Rohun and Pooja targeted the serve by teaching a proper toss and practicing shoulder movement. Evan led his group in volleying, encouraging proper crossover steps and punching,  before mixing in some game play, which the kids really enjoyed. Chase led a session on proper groundstroke technique and point playing to prepare for the jamboree. Lucca, Jenny, and Brandon practiced hitting and recovering in all the moves of the game. They played the crowd-pleaser “King” of the court in singles -- Jenny spent a lot of the time as Queen.

The Education Session asked the students to think critically about the things they learned this summer and how they could apply them to their goals for the upcoming year, with volunteers leading small group discussions. There was lots of smiling and laughing all round -- everyone had a lot of fun with this. Thereafter, two groups played breakout and the other, King of the Court. Those on the main court participated in a Team Singles competition. 

At the end of the session, we all huddled up and did shout outs to our stand outs:

Ladder Station: Ada
Serving Station: Emeka
Volleying Station: Nour
Groundstrokes/ Points Station: Kyree
Main Court: Zion

Thanks Volunteers. One more Saturday and then it’s time for the Jamboree!

Go Marcy!

Members of the Kings County Tennis League hone their skills in Brooklyn on the corner of Marcy and Nostrand Aves. (ALEX RUD/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Members of the Kings County Tennis League hone their skills in Brooklyn on the corner of Marcy and Nostrand Aves. (ALEX RUD/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

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 9 Recap: Davis Cup!

Week 9 Recap: Davis Cup!

On Saturday, July 29, our students competed in Davis Cup, as is KCTL midseason tradition. Modeled off the real Davis Cup, each of the five sites represented a country in the doubles tournament. We put the following nations on the map: Mongolia (Tompkins), Greece (Marcy), Brazil (Lafayette Gardens), Kenya (Sumner), and Trinidad & Tobago (Jackie Robinson). 

Saturday was an usually windy day at Marcy Playground, but we held things (the portable tennis nets) down (literally) with bags of rice. Before the matches began, student ambassadors from each site presented some historical and cultural information on their country to an audience that included many volunteers, parents, family members, and other spectators. The national anthems from each country were played.

The format of the tournament was as follows: The first doubles team to 10 points was the winner of the match. To compliment real tennis scoring, victory meant winning by at least two points. Every single point counted toward the final team score, which propelled participants to make the most of every single point. The final point count was divided by how many matches each site played to determine the Champion.

During play, we witnessed some healthy competition from each site which helped to create a fantastic atmosphere. Program Manager Dave Webley notes that he observed "very encouraging signs that our students are improving their games, while learning how to deal with their emotions when competing."

Mongolia was declared the Champion at the end of the day. Congratulations, Tompkins! Although four teams did not go home as winners, all participants had a thrilling and rewarding Davis Cup tournament. Everyone played at least three matches, remained engaged, and demonstrated competitive spirit. 

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 7 Recap from Marcy

Week 7 Recap from Marcy

It was a beautiful day for tennis at Marcy playground. We had about 20 players participating.

We started off on the Main Court warming up with various dynamic stretches. The kids and volunteers are getting comfortable with the routine.

From there, the players broke off into groups and worked their way through various stations. Bonnie led the Ladder Station also featuring grips & memory board. Danielle and Nakia led the Grip/ Relay Race Station. Camille focused on teaching volleys & kids are building up skills! Bryan and Evan had their group working on groundstrokes, both forehands and backhands. John and Sylvie handled the kids on the Main Court having their group work on groundstrokes, volleys, and serving. They ended by having the players rally and work on their consistency.

Marcy Site Leader Rob's main goals in terms of skills are: consistency, ready position, footwork, and grips. Little by little they are improving!

In the Off-Court Session, Gary and the students discussed Greece, Marcy’s country for the Davis Cup Tournament on July 29th. The kids engaged in small groups and shared their knowledge with everyone at large thereafter. We learned that Greece entered the Davis Cup in 1927. We also about various Greek Gods and the country’s contributions to Modern Western Society. 

Next, everyone moved to the Main Court for a game of Breakout led by Danielle. Our winner was Kyle; Zion was the runner-up. At the end of the session, we all huddled up and thanked ALL the participants for a successful day! Then, a volunteer from each station gave a Shout Out to one special player who exemplified KCTL attributes.