The leaves have started falling already on the Marcy Houses playground, the center of tennis on any given Saturday in Bedford Stuyvesant, and Kings County Tennis League (KCTL) just ushered in the fall equinox with its 8th annual youth tournament and jamboree.
Founded in 2010 by Bed-Stuy resident Michael McCasland, KCTL’s aim is to engage and inspire local youth through non-traditional activities such as tennis. In eight years, the program has grown from one student at a site near the Marcy Houses, to a league of 150 players across five NYCHA developments in Bed-Stuy.
The end-of-summer celebration kicked off on Saturday with round-robin, elimination-style singles tournaments for “10 and under” and “11 and over” age categories. At the matches’ conclusion, everyone celebrated with food and drinks prepared by KCTL parents, followed by an awards presentation.
“We have had a great summer – it’s amazing how much we’ve grown and developed,” said David Webley, the program manager at KCTL. “We launched two new programs – Go Girls Go and Upswing– registered over 150 students for classes, including at the recently renovated Tompkins Houses and Sumner Houses, and had a trip to the US Open for a live demo on a show court.”
The organization provides free tennis programming and equipment, including rackets, tennis balls and uniforms. It also offers year-round programs and trips to matches, made possible with the help of volunteers, as well as donations and grants from the likes of the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
While the jamboree once marked the end of KCTL for the year, now it only marks a transition from season-to-season.
On Monday, October 2, KCTL kicks off its fall afterschool program, offering classes four days a week — Monday through Thursday, from 3:45pm to 5:45pm — until November 2. Another tournament will take place on November 4, to test skills learned and tide over the students’ urge for competition until January.
In addition to all the good things happening with KCTL, one of its top students,12-year-old Jonathan Del Rosario, who has been with the program nearly since its inception, has received a scholarship to play at a high-performance junior academy at McCarren Park, beginning October 16. Beginning this fall, Jonathan will begin competing in USTA tournaments!