| By Matthew Cohen
Credit photo: Calvin Rhoden

The children of the Garden of Dreams Foundation recently enjoyed a week full of activities that could trump any sport enthusiasts, to say the least. “I’m having a blast!” said Lance Green, one of the children who was sporting a custom New York Knicks jersey he had made at Madison Square Garden. The kids have enjoyed one-of-a-kind experiences by the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, MSG Networks, MSG Sports Properties and MSG Entertainment at various locations throughout the Tri-State area including, but not limited to, throwing the pig skin around with current Giants Eli Manning and Victor Cruz, a shoot around on the court at the MSG Training Center with Knicks alumni Larry Johnson and John Starks, and a day atop the roof of the world famous Radio City Music Hall.

With the 2014 U.S. Open right around the corner and tennis buzz sweeping through the five boroughs, Gotham Tennis Academy/Stadium Tennis Center opened their doors and courts to treat 40 children from the Police Athletic League (PAL) to a morning filled with tennis and fun filled activities. For the sixth consecutive summer, the Garden of Dreams Foundation hosted “Dream Week,” a week-long summer experience for 40 children ages 10-12 years old from the Police Athletic League, one of its 22 partner organizations.

“For Gotham Tennis Academy/Stadium Tennis Center to be gracious enough to open its doors and have the pros come down to devote their time to work with the kids is something very special,” said Larry Torres, director of public relations at The Madison Square Garden Company.

The children started the day with light stretches, received their own rackets (generously donated by the USTA Foundation), and made their way to the courts. Once there, they learned the fundamentals of the game from the Gotham Tennis Academy/Stadium Tennis Center teaching staff.

“It’s very exciting to have the kids here and introduce them to the sport of tennis,” said Gotham/Stadium Tennis instructor and contributor to New York Tennis Magazine, Eric Faro. “Maybe one of these kids is the next great American tennis player.”

After learning the basics, the kids exhibited what they had learned playing games like 21, Around the World, and Jail for the last hour of the event.

“Any time you can expose kids to an outside, different sport like tennis, it’s a great experience,” said Mike Delprete, owner and vice president of Stadium Tennis Center. “It’s a body, mind and self-esteem builder … an all-around feel good story and a win for everybody.”

The experience has brought the kids closer to their favorite sports and players; giving them hands-on experiences to last a lifetime, especially while they are sitting home watching their favorite New York team play.

“Together, the Garden of Dreams Foundation and the Police Athletic League made their summer,” said Ralph Burk of the Police Athletic League. I couldn't agree more.

Credit photos to Calvin Rhoden & Matthew Cohen