Over the years, highlighting the alumni who competed in the men’s singles and / or doubles USTA Open tournament included only a very few of the graduates of the New York Junior Tennis League – Lamar Harper Griffith, Alex Roberman and John Molin. Maybe Roberman might have gone further in his career, but it was not to be. Roberman had the potential of playing in the main draw of the tournament. Molin also had the potential to play in the singles portion of the same tourney according to Bill Wiese, who was the tournament director of the New York Junior Tennis League.
Wiese retired from this position but stayed on with the New York Junior Tennis League and Learning.
“Griffith won a round in doubles,” continued Wiese. “Those are the three New York City kids who played in the main draw of the U.S. Open.
Wiese recently took some time off from watching some of the matches in the tournament at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Overall, tennis in America is not as popular as football, baseball, or basketball. “It isn’t dying,” Wiese went on. “The rest of the world has caught up.”
But not in Jamaica (West Indies), Haiti, or the Caribbean, and the Virgin Islands, for examples. These parts of the world remained with soccer, cricket and athletics with sprints dominating track and field. Tennis in the parks and schools in the Caribbean is limited because of the lack of courts and there are few clubs in the area that really stress tennis such as they do in the United States.
In the United States and even in the public schools in New York City, cricket is on the rise, while tennis is at a stand still. There is an increase in the number of students playing cricket in New York with public high schools having a league of their own.
Tennis could be on the rise in The Bronx and Westchester county with the building of the Carrie Leeds Center in the Bronx. It will be a new venue for the kids and the adults. “There will be 22 courts located in the new venue,” said Wiese.
The New York Junior Tennis League is a chapter of the Junior Tennis League, which began in the early ‘70s.
Besides the mentioned New Yorkers who competed in the U.S. Open, there was James Blake who recently retired from competing on the circuit. However, Blake was born in Yonkers and is not a native New York City product; thus he was unable to be a member of the New York Junior Tennis League. His father Dr. Blake was on the board of directors of the Harlem Armory.
“The Blakes were a great family,” Wiese said. “Dr. Blake gave so much back to New York City kids,” he added.
“Maybe now tennis in the Virgin Islands and in the Caribbean can bring something and some stars into the United States,” said a tennis spokesman.