The New York Junior Tennis League’s summer tennis program at P.S./M.S. 194 in Zerega is having a positive impact on young people enrolled in the program, many say. Beyond teaching the game’s fundamentals, the youth are learning invaluable social skills.
This is the second summer that the program has been at the school, engaging children and teens who might otherwise be in the streets.
Ron Nano, director of tennis for New York Junior Tennis League, which runs the program, said that the organization’s site at the Zerega Community School offers a 15-hour-a-week program for 8 to 16-year-olds that has received ongoing support from the city council.
“I am hearing many good things about this site because the physical education teacher from the school, Loren Allen, is very well organized,” Nano said. “The parents are really involved in the program. As part of the 15-hour-a-week program, one of the staff members distribute books that the young people read for two hours per week. They will keep a log of the books that they read, and at the end of the program the winners – who read the most books – will get prizes.”
Councilman Jimmy Vacca will visit the camp to give out prizes and see the players in action on August 26. Vacca helped to bring the program to the school through council funding.
“When I learned how many kids were into tennis, I was pleasantly surprised and wanted to bring the sport to my district,” Vacca said. “Sports like tennis offer a socialization opportunity and provides physical activity that can combat obesity. I thought P.S./M.S. 194 would benefit from the program.”
Marci Dwyer, who lives near Pelham Parkway, has three children – 16-year-old Christopher and twin 13-year-olds Brian and Justin – enrolled in the program. She said that it has kept her children well occupied between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon this summer.
“It is a fantastic program because my boys have learned so much – sportsmanship, competition, and the fundamentals of tennis.” Dwyer said. “Before the program, all that they knew about tennis was that you take a ball and whack it over a net. The children have fun learning and it is a real community project.”
Besides tennis, and a break for reading, the program at this particular location offers free breakfast and lunch to those who qualify. Registration is on an ongoing basis.
The New York Junior Tennis League operates many tennis camps at different locations for kids during the summer. This includes the Bronx International Youth Tennis Center at 754 Thieriot Avenue. For more information, call (718) 786-7110 or visit nyjtl.org.