For the 22nd consecutive year, the City Parks Foundation hosted its annual benefit at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows during the US Open to raise money for CityParks Tennis and the free tennis programming it provides throughout the five boroughs.
Each year, the event helps generate funds which help the organization continue to give tennis instruction to more than 5,000 children in 37 different parks across New York City. In all, this year’s benefit raised $325,000.
The benefit also serves to honor those who have contributed to and played an integral role in growing the City Parks Foundation.
“We were so honored to be able to recognize the contributions of several notable tennis professionals who have contributed to the field and to City Parks Foundation in important ways, while also highlighting the achievements of one our standout juniors,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “Every child should have the opportunity to play tennis in our city’s parks at no cost to them. The funds we raised ensure that there will be no barriers to access.”
Jenny Schnitzer, USTA Eastern’s Executive Director and CEO, was honored with the Vitas Gerulaitis Community Service Award for her contributions. Schnitzer began playing tennis at the age of eight through the CityParks Tennis program, getting her start at Inwood Park in Manhattan.
She would go on to receive a scholarship to play at St. John’s University, and even met her husband in the CityParks Tennis programs when she was a coach.
“It has been a huge part of my life,” Schnitzer said of the impact the City Parks Foundation has had on her. “My parents played and were a part of it, and CityParks Tennis gave me the training to get to the next level. I made their Advanced team, and even got to go to London to compete against the CityParks kids from there. Because of the tournaments I played, I received a scholarship to St. John’s and I met my husband on the CityParks courts when I began coaching. So I have a lot to say thank you to them for.
I am so honored and humbled to be recognized by an organization that has meant so much to me in my life. To be recognized by them is really special.”
In addition to Schnitzer, Luke Jensen and Murphy Jensen were honored with the Vitas Gerulaitis Community Service Award for their two-decade long support of CityParks Tennis, and 13-year-old Justin Chong received the 2019 Billie Jean King Junior Achievement Award. Since 2015, Chong has trained with the Lacoste Junior Tennis Academy, a CityParks Tennis program, as he continues to chase his dream of becoming a professional player.