Earlier this spring, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows played host to the 22nd annual Say Yes to Tennis – No to Violence Day as acting Queens District Attorney John M. Ryan teamed up with the USTA and New York Junior Tennis and Learning to put on this event.
“More than 20 years ago, under the guidance of the late District Attorney Richard A. Brown, a small idea ballooned into a great program to promote positive youth development for youngsters in the furthest regions of Queens County,” said Ryan. “The goal was, from the beginning, to introduce teens and pre-teens to tennis—a game that incorporates important life lessons, such as fair play and self control.”
Over 600 students from nine public schools in Far Rockaway hit the courts of the National Tennis Center to play tennis as a way to have healthy and positive life choices promoted to them.
“It is my hope that each and every child has benefitted from this experience in a positive and productive way, and that the lessons learned will help them to have bright and successful futures,” Ryan added.
The event is at the heart of the District Attorney’s STAR Track anti-violence program, which consists of assistant district attorneys and other members of the District Attorney’s Office, as well as members of the New York City Corporation Counsel’s Office and the Queens Legal Aid Society visiting schools from elementary through high school to talk to kids about the risks of guns, drugs and gangs, and encourage them to make smart choices.
For a lot of kids, the Say Yes to Tennis event is the first time they have had tennis introduced to them, and the hope is that they will stick to the sport, no matter the level of play they are able to attain. Each child walked away with a free t-shirt to commemorate the event.
“As our mission is to ‘grow the game of tennis’, this annual event presents itself as a unique opportunity for students from the Far Rockaway community to be exposed to new and exciting learning experiences,” said Marty Weinstein, who works in the Tennis Programs Office at the National Tennis Center and has assisted in coordinating the event since its inception. “The impact of this event is self-evident as witnessed by the wonder on their faces upon arriving at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and their joy while participating in a fun day of tennis. Our staff, and our partners at the Queens District Attorney’s Office, are to be acknowledged for their enthusiasm and continued commitment to this event.”