Bronx to serve up professional tennis thanks to World Team Tennis

(l-r) Empire Head Coach Luke Walton, Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, and tennis legend and WTT co-founder, Billie Jean King.
The Bronxer

Who says that Queens is the tennis hub of New York City?

The Bronx will soon be serving up plenty of its own tennis competition this summer.

Professional tennis team New York Empire of the World Team Tennis league announced on Thursday, June 25 that it will call the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis and Learning in Crotona Park its new home.

Making the announcement was the one and only Billie Jean King, a legend to the sport and a co founder of WTT.

“To have this facility in the Bronx is absolutely major,” King said upon the team’s decision to set up shop in the brand new, architectural marvel of the somewhat unknown Cary Leeds Center.

King continued on to explain that putting a state-of-the-art facility in the Bronx would encourage the sport’s growth at a youth level for the borough.

“The youngsters don’t have to be bussed over some place else (to play),” she said.

Both King and Empire Head Coach Luke Walton agreed that seeing professionals play live is such a large component of youth development.

Not only will Bronx kids be given the opportunity to see the pros play first (and back) hand, but they’ll also be seeing some of the world’s best playing on the Empire Roster.

Number one ranked American and top 12 world-ranked John Isner will be taking the court with the Empire on Sunday, July 14 in an effort to ground the San Diego Aviators.

The lower court at Victor Kiam Stadium at the Cary Leeds center.
The Bronxer

Isner hasn’t played much in the Bronx during his career yet, but it’s something he’s very eager to change.

“These kind of live matches are great,” he said, while mentioning that his American matches usually make up a hardcore season that helps to prep for major tournaments.

Nothing’s more hardcore than watching Isner’s powerhouse serve at roughly 150 miles per hour that will be acing up Wimbledon and the US Open, in addition to the courts at Cary Leeds, this summer.

He also acknowledged what a role his appearance in the borough means for youth tennis.

“The Bronx is full of tremendous athletic talent,” Isner said. “If we could get those kids involved early and show them how great tennis is then we’re looking at something great,” he continued.

Part of that youth influence will come with the Empire’s themed matches this July as well. Community Hero night will be on Tuesday July, 16 when Bronx emergency responders, like NYPD and FDNY, will be honored during the match against the Vegas Rollers. Two nights later will be Taste The Bronx Night on Thursday, July 18 where Arthur Avenue and other borough eateries will be catering the match against the Orange County Breakers. Meanwhile Bronx Night will be on Monday, July 29 against the Springfield Lasers; that’s going to be an all encompassing appreciation of the Empire’s new home borough.

“Getting the community involved is going to be a lot of fun,” Isner said.

Venus Williams will also appear with the Washington Kastles in the Bronx on Friday, July 19.

For more information on the Empire’s schedule, visit:

Billie Jean King at New York Empire media day on Tuesday, June 25.
The Bronxer

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