Things Are Looking Green at Riverside Park
Mark McIntyre answers a few questions about GreenOutlook, quite possibly the best thing to hit Riverside Park since, well, the red clay courts he brought back to life over the last 20 years.
How did you first get into tennis/RCTA?
About 20 years or so ago, I used to hang out at the clay courts every afternoon looking for pickup games. I started volunteering to help fix up the courts, which were in pretty bad shape. I was invited to join the board of the volunteer group, and then they hired me to expand the organization and find the funds to transform the dirt courts into the red clay courts.
What inspired you to create a sustainable structure, GreenOutlook?
Necessity, really. What used to be a pretty isolated part of the park is now extremely busy thanks to the success of the tennis courts and the extension of the Hudson River Greenway. We now get thousands of people each day. These people need a bathroom and the sewer system doesn't come this far. We had to figure a way to get bathrooms here and green seemed to be the best and most responsible way to go. While there are one or two public composting restrooms in new York City, this will be the first to use solar power and, if we get appropriate permissions, the first to use the compost to fertilize public flower gardens. In other words, it will be a totally self-contained, off-grid complex.
Besides a grassroots effort, how else do you plan to get the word out about GreenOutlook?
We are reaching out to bicycling groups, local schools, runners groups and other organizations with large memberships who are affected by what goes on in Riverside Park.
What fundraisers and other activities are you planning this summer to help generate donations for GreenOutlook?
We have a couple of possibilities in the works involving some pro players, both active and retired. We have a huge walkathon planned for the fall, in mid-October, and we are thinking about having a dinner on the site, which is now an abandoned parking lot.
What is your target date for Green Outlook to open?
McIntyre: We'd love to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the end of 2013, but that is going to depend on the success of our fundraising efforts this summer. We held a recent fundraiser, hosted by New York City Council member Gale Brewer, who allocated $1.2 million to the GreenOutlook project.
Do you feel that once this project is completed, others will follow?
I do … absolutely. If this is a success, and I am convinced it will be, I think it will serve as a model for future parks’ public restrooms.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
McIntyre: I just want to invite everyone reading this down to our summer concerts, which are free, and which we have every Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. that began June 9 and run through the end of August. Go to www.RCTA.info to see our schedule. We have a different style of music every week.
GreenOutlook will have a long-lasting impact on the future of green building in New York and across the country. The new structures will meet the Living Building Challenge, one of the most rigorous green building standards in the world, and will forcefully advance Mayor Bloomberg's and our city's sustainability goals laid out in PlaNYC 2030 and Vision 2020.
Mark McIntyre, executive director of the Riverside Clay Tennis Association (RCTA), Fareed Zakaria and Dale Caldwell, USTA board member
An artist’s conception of the GreenOutlook project (courtesy of Cook+Fox Architects)
The Kings County Tennis League (KCTL)
By C. Dotson & H. Van De Mark
Youth tennis can impart a lifetime of positive benefits. Tennis fosters mental and physical strength, and develops a player’s sense of accountability and confidence. Unfortunately, it’s not often a “go to” sport in urban communities. Thankfully, tennis legend Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Kings County Tennis League (KCTL) is a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization founded in the spring of 2010 by 29-year-old Michael McCasland. What began as the Marcy Tennis Club at the Marcy Houses, and took place every Saturday afternoon from May to October, has grown to include multiple sites: Marcy, Tompkins, Lafayette Gardens and Sumner—all under the new KCTL banner in 2012. McCasland and his young, diverse volunteers continue to provide tennis instruction at no cost to the neighborhood kids of low-income communities every Saturday afternoon.
KCTL is thrilled to offer these lessons because many of their students might not otherwise be afforded the opportunity to participate in this sport. The kids range in ages from five to 16 years of age. KCTL uses tennis as a vehicle for encouraging wellness, mentoring and community building. Also, through grant funding, KCTL plans to encourage safe facilities by managing court renovation projects the youth and community can utilize.
“We teach tennis as the sport of opportunity,” said McCasland. “The children that participate learn confidence, self-expression, and tools that translate well beyond tennis."
In October, KCTL hosts an annual end-of-the-season jamboree that features a tournament among neighborhood sites; a certificate and trophy ceremony for all participants; food, music, games, wellness resources; and offerings from other community partners. The Third Annual KCTL Fundraiser is set for Tuesday, July 24 from 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at The Dumbo Loft, located at 155 Water Street in Brooklyn, N.Y. For more information, visit KingsCountyTennisLeague.org.
As an organizational member of the USTA Eastern, KCTL takes students and parents to Arthur Ashe Kids Day in August at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center—another great opportunity for the kids to engage with other young tennis enthusiasts. They appreciate the chance to visit and play at the stadium where players and legends from all over the world compete. KCTL is always grateful for the chance to help provide these experiences for their students.
Kings County Tennis League is always looking for good volunteers. Classes are from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. on Saturdays from May to October. Please do not hesitate to contact them at KingsCountyTennisLeague.org for more program information, to volunteer or work with the board of directors and/or making donations. For more information, visit KingsCountyTennisLeague.org, Facebook, Meet Up, @Kctennisleague1.
119TA Spring Festival: Enjoying Tennis and Raising Money to Help Maintain the Courts
By Liz Westbrook Hydes
You couldn’t have asked for a better day for the occasion—Saturday, May 19 at the 119th Street hard courts in Riverside Park. Sunny and in the mid-70s, the 119th Street Tennis Association (119TA) held its Spring Tennis Festival. With support from USTA Eastern, local businesses, volunteers, and association members, the event featured several tennis activities, a picnic, a raffle and a membership drive.
Some 100-plus tennis enthusiasts, families and friends took part in the day’s activities. The morning kicked off with a clean-up of the court perimeter and its surroundings, supported by Riverside Park Fund’s Volunteer Program. This was followed by a round of QuickStart Tennis for kids, and informal hitting with the resident tennis pros, Jaime Bravo, Dawn Fox and Dave Kardas. Parents were thrilled to see their kids learning and enjoying the sport. In gratitude, many of them bought raffle tickets to support the association in its efforts to promote tennis and help pay for the maintenance of the facility’s 10 hard courts. Several players were so impressed by the generous picnic, the recently pressure-washed courts, and programs sponsored by 119TA, that they eagerly signed up to become members and participate in tournaments to be held this summer.
Festival participants were treated to a sumptuous picnic featuring specialties donated by neighborhood restaurants, including Bettolona, Henry’s, Indian Café, 107 West, Pisticci and Symposium. Much excitement surrounded the announcement of the winners of the raffle, including the grand prize of two tickets to the U.S. Open Women's Semifinals, generously donated by a 119TA board member. Activities continued all afternoon, with tennis tips and round-robin play with the tennis pros. To top it off, the association held its inaugural Women’s Doubles Round-Robin Tournament.
“We had a lot of fun!” remarked participants Sarit Cohen and Juliana Prather. This was the first tournament they ever played in.
The event was considered a tremendous success. As Liz Hydes, president of the association noted: “People enjoyed the day’s activities, met fellow tennis enthusiasts, and learned about 119TA. Moreover, we raised $2,500 from the raffle, new/renewed memberships, and donations, including the Festival Sponsorship grant from USTA Eastern Metro.”
119th Street Tennis Association is a non-profit organization operating under the auspices of Riverside Park Fund in New York City. Supported by more than 150 members, 119TA is dedicated to improving the quality of the tennis facility in New York City's Riverside Park at 119th Street. It organizes tournaments, clinics and other related tennis activities. For more information on membership, tournaments and events, visit www.119TA.net.
Liz Westbrook Hydes is the director of development for Riverside Park Fund (RPF), raising money to maintain and improve the Park. The job happens to correlate with the 119th Street Tennis Courts that are in Riverside Park, as 119TA is an affiliate of RPF and supports court maintenance. For more information, call (212) 870-3082 or e-mail 119thTennisAssoc@gmail.com.
19TA Board Members (left to right, back row) Patrick Duvalsaint, Joanie Schroeder and Liz Westbrook Hydes, with (left to right, front row) Josie Atienza and Amy Ayres
Joanie Schroeder, Lester Schulman and Tom Holz putting up the new USTA Eastern Region banner
Women’s Doubles Tournament Finalists Henrietta Gwaltney & Daisy Siemon and Champions Liz Hydes & Joanie Schroeder
Masaki Kasetani with the new 119TA banner
USTA Eastern Metro Region awards grants
The following groups are all receiving the full amount of $1,000 in grants from the USTA Eastern Metro Region. The purpose of the grants is to increase tennis participation and support tennis programming, especially among racially and ethnically diverse groups.
The GreenOutlook is an off-grid, self-contained, sustainable complex that will serve thousands of bicyclists, joggers, strollers, picnickers and tennis players. The Green Outlook will: Replace an abandoned asphalt parking lot with a native wildflower meadow; create an overlook with stunning views of the Hudson River; provide Riverside Park and Hudson River Greenway users with a public restroom that employs solar energy, composting toilets and a green roof; and build a green maintenance facility for the busy red clay tennis courts and surrounding parkland and gardens. Serving as a model for future park improvements, the entire GreenOutlook complex will be carbon-neutral and employ the latest green technologies, including solar power, recycled materials, gray-water remediation, on-site waste treatment and use, and storm water management.
The goals of the NYTA are to: Preserve the history of African-Americans in the sport of tennis; create and maintain opportunities for adult and junior ATA members across the region, to compete, develop and network through the sport of tennis; contribute funding and fundraising efforts in support of the competitive development of NYTA juniors; provide scholarships for incoming and existing college students who are ATA members; and help in the fight against obesity in the community by offering tennis-oriented health and fitness initiatives.
The Knickerbocker Field Club (also known as "the Knick")
114 East 18th Street in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The idea for a free summer program was initiated in 2003 by Winston Ramsey, one of the club's two pros who also grew up in central Brooklyn. As a child, Winston was introduced to tennis through local community programming, and he personally introduced the concept of the program to the Knick's board of directors as a means opening the club to local kids who have limited access to the sport. With the board’s approval and its commitment to using three of the club's five courts and its facilities, the program began as a six-week, two-hour instructional program meting twice per week. Through personal contacts and word of mouth, the program was immediately filled with 45 neighborhood kids ages five through 18 who flocked to the club for a chance to play tennis.