Junior league in full swing

This is the time of the year when the youngsters are on the outdoor tennis courts and for the beginers to learn the sport. They try to move up the ladder. Some of them play on the junior circuits. Some of them try to still climb the ladder, advance to the next level, and even attempt to make it big time, going to the men’s tour. Some are very serious about going into the pro field.

The mission of New York Junior Tennis and Learning is to develop the character of young people through tennis and education for a life time of success on and off the court.

Formerly called the New York Junior Tennis League, the organization changed its name last year to New York Junior Tennis & Learning.

Originally called the NYJTL it had a program throughout the year, indoors and outdoors and it was and still is for boys and girls of school age. There are numerous sites for both sexes throughout each borough, including the newest — the Cary Leeds Center in Crotona Park in the East Bronx near 175 St. and Crotona Avenue.

The venue is only outdoor courts run in conjunction with the Department of Parks but the indoor courts will be soon completed. New York City Department of Parks has conducted many tournaments and workouts for the ones who wish to use them.

The first major competition of the year, the Mayor’s Cup for school children, was held recently on a team and individual basis. The boys and girls represented their schools in both individual and team competitions in singles and doubles.

Meanwhile, the Cary Leeds Center has just an outdoor competition with an anticipated indoor one soon to be completed. Then came the New York Junior Tennis and Learning, which helped out tremendously on the new court.

Over the years, the Mayor’s Cup tournament drew about 400 youngsters held at the USTA National Tennis Center in Queens, and under the direction of Bill Wiese and his staff. With the new facility, Ron Nano who grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, where he was an outstanding player, was recently named general manager of the Cory Leeds Tennis Center.

On the interscholastic scene among the Public Schools Athletic League in New York, Cardozo High School seemed to dominate action year after year. Then its head coach Henry Aarons retired from teaching and coaching and stepped down, paving the way for another coach to step in. The program hasn’t been the same. Player rosters do run in cycles.

Cardozo won championships year after year and turned in outstanding individual players.

Along came Beacon High School of Manhattan, which lacked having indoor and outdoor facilities for tennis on campus. Cardozo had its own tennis courts but Beacon emerged strong and won titles over the more recent years.

Beacon captured PSAL and Mayor Cup championships this year. On the Catholics schools side, St. Francis Prep at times was little dominant, with Fordham Prep and Iona Prep also strong.

Credit goes to the hard work that the players put in and, of course, to the coaches. Bayard Faithful and his staff certainly have the potential and players to put ‘it’ all together. Beacon completed an undefeated dual match season in its spring schedule and certainly showed it during the Mayor’s Cup team title that it recently won and for the first time at the new center in The Bronx.

Competition in the individual tournament of the Mayor’s Cup winds up this Sunday with titles at stake plus an award ceremony.

Felipe Osses Konig, who resides in Forest Hills, chose to get his education at Beacon, because of its tennis reputation and for the past four years led the team. He is now headed to college this fall. The New York Junior Tennis & Learning has a tremendous facility in the Bronx.

Some of the graduates of the Mayor’s Cup and the then New York Junior Tennis League went on to the pro circuit and made names for themselves on the circuit.

Some of the players who competed in the recent tournament still rather put their skills to work at the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open; but some matches in the crowded tournament will still play in Queens.

“Tennis has the potential to build life-changing, social, academic, and career networks, giving children the best chance for individual growth and success,” said Dr. Deborah Antoine, New York Junior Tennis and Learning president & CEO.

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