An avid tennis player and father figure to many Bronx youth was honored in one ‘grand slam’ of a street naming ceremony recently.
Local elected officials, community members and friends and family of the late Milton Alexander gathered together on Saturday, October 17 at the corner of Asch Loop and Bartow Avenue in Co-op City to co-name this intersection, ‘Milton Alexander Way’, to honor the Bronx Tennis Club mainstay.
The ceremony began with Bishop Angelo Rosario and his wife, Nancy, from the Church of God’s Children in Co-op City with a prayer-filled opening address before proclamations recognizing October 17 as ‘Milton Alexander Day’ were presented to members of Alexander’s family by Councilman Andy King, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto prior to the street sign’s unveiling.
According to Councilman King, “this dynamic ceremony saw over 100 folks coming out to share their stories about Milton.”
“As I started working with the youth over 20 years ago as part of the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program, I had the honor of meeting Milton and working with him to help better serve our youth,” said the councilman. “He was very tenacious and used sports to help the youth develop stronger character and even when he took ill, it didn’t stop him from helping them. In this day and age of chaos, we all need more positive images and putting up a sign remembering Milton Alexander is very important to everyone because it gives them all someone to look up to for inspiration.”
The Jamaican-born Alexander attended Kingston College before emigrating to America in the early 1950s with his mother and was inspired to pursue a career in tennis after watching tennis legend, Arthur Ashe play and win at Wimbledon in 1975.
An avid tennis player and a United States Professional Tennis Registry certified coach, Milton, a Co-op City resident since 1979, saw a need for sports in his local neighborhood and the northeast Bronx and formed the Co-op City Tennis Club with his wife Lorraine, in 1983 for adults and children.
“His passion was tennis and he saw it as a vehicle to help youngsters in Co-op City many of whom were originally from the Caribbean obtain college scholarships,” said Lorraine, who is also a CCTC co-founder and certified USPTR coach. “Many of them were the first ones in their families to go to college and have went on to lead successful lives and provide for their families.”
Under his leadership, the Co-op City Tennis Club was chosen several years in a row to represent the children of New York City at the U.S. Open from 2003 to 2006 winning numerous junior championships and 34 children received college scholarships during his tenure.
Milton’s expansive career saw the youth leader embody such roles as a New York Junior Tennis League board member, a Youth Activities Committee board member, a U.S. Tennis Association Minority Participation Committee section leader, a founding members of the North Bronx Sports Federation and a New York State Assembly Scholarship Committee member for the 82nd District formed by Assemblyman Benedetto.
Both Alexander and his wife aided in selecting scholarship winners based on their community involvement, social consciousness and academic standings.
“Milton had a lot of things he tried to do, but tennis always was his first love and transferred this passion to hundreds of youngsters and adults alike in the community,” said Assemblyman Benedetto. “He was a very kind, benevolent man with an infectious smile and he was someone you would be proud to call a friend.”
Lorraine said the Co-op City Tennis Club was officially renamed as the ‘Milton Alexander Tennis Club’ following his November 10, 2009 death at the age of 78 and continues his legacy.
The Milton Alexander Tennis Club’s winter session will be held every Saturday at 12:30 p.m. beginning on Saturday, November 7 until the end of April at Memorial Field in Mount Vernon.
For more information, contact Lorraine at (718) 671-4437.