MaliVai Washington, Gigi Fernandez, Bea Bielik, Lori McNeil and Chanda Rubin were among the field of celebrities paired with the programs amateur participants at The Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program’s (HJTEP) tennis pro-am tournament. The finals were played inside famed Arthur Ashe Stadium on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
New York Tennis Magazine spoke to the Executive Director of Harlem Junior Tennis League Katrina Adams who said about the program, “The HJTL is a non-profit, grassroots organization. The program starts from putting a racket in a kid’s hand to a possible college scholarship. Around 85 percent of the kids in the program are from the Harlem community. The program offers many things from tennis, tutoring, mentoring, life skills and college prep."
HJTEP is a NJTL chapter and has operated continuously in Harlem since its inception and now serves more than 1,000 youth each year. The mission is to bring the values to be learned through tennis to youth from high risk, low income inner-city neighborhoods and to offer opportunities for self- development, while highlighting education and a positive code of behavior.
Speaking on the future of the program Adams added, "Tennis can be a vehicle to a college scholarship. Programs like this helps kids build self confidence and helps boost their self esteem. Tennis is a life sport and all ages can play it. Kids can go to college and play club tennis, and not do something as competitive as varsity tennis. Our goal for this program is to expand and one day have a bigger facility. We have been housed in the armory since 1972."