Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown hosted the 18th Annual “Say Yes to Tennis, No to Violence” event at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where 800-plus children from various schools in Far Rockaway hit the courts for a day of tennis and other fun activities.
Part of DA Brown’s STAR Track Program, the event is a way to encourage kids to live a healthy and active lifestyle in hopes of steering them away from violence.
“It’s a powerful event,” said Whitney Kraft, director of tennis at the National Tennis Center. “For a lot of these youngsters, it’s their first real exposure to tennis. We stress the advantages of movement, exercise and fitness. It’s a big partnership with the help of the NYJTL, USTA Eastern, the DA’s office and the New York City Police Department.”
The kids got lessons from instructors from the National Tennis Center, as well as the New York Junior Tennis and Learning, and even heard an inspiring story of forgiveness from NYPD Detective Steven F. McDonald, who was shot in the line of duty over two decades ago.
“I hope that the kids learn that life is a series of decisions,” Kraft added. “And that one of their outlets to deal with the stresses of life is physical fitness and exercise.”
Some top junior players from the National Tennis Center put on an exhibition match to demonstrate how a tennis match is played and illustrate specific tennis shots.
Deborah MacFarlane Antoine, president and CEO of New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL), said the event is a great way to try and get kids on the right path.
“I think it’s just a fabulous event to celebrate healthy living,” said Antoine. “When Arthur Ashe started the NYJTL 44 years ago, the mission he states then is what we’ve been doing ever since. It wasn’t just about teaching them tennis, but to help build healthy and trusting relationships. And that really is the key to living a successful life.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org