This article first appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of New York Tennis Magazine. Click Here to read the full digital edition
Metro Region Council Offers Regional Grants
Organizations in the Metro Region can apply for regional grant funding to support programming aimed at increasing tennis participation in the community. Special consideration will be given to: school and afterschool programming; junior competitive play; adult competitive play; diversity and inclusion initiatives; Community Tennis Associations (CTA) & National Jr. Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Programs; special populations and wheelchair tennis programming; and innovative programming.
Regional grant awards are up to $1,000 and are for tennis programs and events operating in 2021. To learn more about eligibility requirements please visit USTA Eastern’s website.
Metro Region wins two awards at Eastern’s annual ceremony
Two members of the NYC tennis community were recognized at USTA Eastern’s annual awards ceremony, held virtually on January 29: Alex Bessarabov, who received the Junior Team Tennis (JTT) Award, and Sharon Simmonds, who was named the Metro Region Volunteer of the Year.
Bessarabov, who works at the National Tennis Center, was honored for his exemplary efforts in coaching multiple JTT teams in several different divisions over the last three years. A player who nominated Bessarabov for the award noted that he is “not only a tremendously effective teaching professional but is also looked upon as a role model in the lives of the young children he interacts with. He brings his whole self to the game and is genuine and passionate in his approach.”
Simmonds received the Volunteer of the Year distinction for her innovative efforts to promote the sport around the NYC area. In addition to serving as the Metro Region Council’s secretary, she regularly offers tennis programming through her Liberty Community Tennis Association organization, located in Liberty Park in Queens. Pre-pandemic, Simmonds was able to get US Open Champion Sloane Stephens to visit the park and give kids in the program a lesson.
Ioonna Felix to lead the Metro Region Council in 2021-22
Ioonna Felix has been named the Regional Council Director of USTA Eastern’s Metro Region Council for the 2021-22 term. Félix—who obtained her undergraduate degree from Columbia University and her doctorate from SUNY Stonybrook—has worked as a physical therapist for over 15 years. She holds multiple certifications from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and specializes in helping those who compete in racquet sports. She has served both professional and Olympic athletes, as well as recreational players, and has seen her clinical research published in both medical journals and book chapters. In addition to her duties as Metro Regional Council Director, she will head up a new subcommittee on sports science for the USTA Eastern Board.
Félix’s own personal history with tennis is what compelled her to take on this leadership role within the organization. “I love this sport, [but] I recognize that it is one that still needs to be more diverse,” she explains. “As a first generation Dominican American who grew up in Washington Heights, my first impression of the game was that it was really boring when I watched it on TV. All I saw was a ball go back and forth over a net. Lucky for me, my sister tried it in high school. She was able to introduce it to me, and it was so much fun. We asked our parents if we could take lessons. Through some difficult navigating we were able to learn how to play. Looking back now, I realize what a big request that was for my parents. The obstacles we experienced and initial lack of access to the game is partly what motivates me to make the path easier for others to play.”
Creating a clear path for others will be one of Félix’s main objectives over the course of her tenure as Regional Council Director. “As we return to a new normal, my major goals are to capitalize on and highlight the many attributes that tennis offers and to grow its accessibility in many underserved communities,” she says. “Additionally, I want to promote the game as a funnel to help people get mentally and physically active in a safe way, develop more community tennis programs and leagues, and grow the sport’s presence in the school system.”
Rounding out the Metro Region Council for the 2021-22 term: Jeffrey Fairbanks; Dionne Gill; Mark McIntyre; Gregory Muhammad; Jordan Reisner; Sharon Simmonds; and immediate past Metro Regional Council Director Pablo Sierra.
Notes Félix of Sierra: “I’d like to give credit to my predecessor for navigating the council [and its initiatives] during the outbreak of a pandemic.”
Metro Adult Leagues Update
The following leagues finished this Winter 2021:
Mixed Doubles - Manhattan 18&Over
6.0: Karen Funfgeld
7.0: Lisa Bernstein/Jeff Linderman/Leigh Flayton
8.0: Matthew Hockett/Lisa Frantz
10.0: Samantha Lieb
The following leagues are currently running:
►40 & Over
►Mixed Doubles - Queens 18 & Over
►Mixed Doubles - Bronx 18 & Over
►Mixed Doubles – 40 & Over
The following leagues are starting in April and May 2021.
These are our largest leagues.
For all levels 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0
They consist of 2 courts of singles, 3 courts of doubles per match.
►18 & Over Manhattan
►18 & Over Queens
►18 & Over Brooklyn
►18 & Over Bronx
►18 & Over Staten Island
New players, teams and captains are welcome.
For more information, please contact: Christopher Dong, Adult League Coordinator, Metro, at email@example.com.