Tennis center opening celebrated

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. plays tennis with kids from New York Junior Tennis and Learning’s programs at the grand opening celebration of NYJTL’s Cary Leeds Center for Tennis and Learning on Monday, June 15 in Crotona Park.
Community News Group / Jaime Williams

Bronx leaders and tennis lovers came together to celebrate the grand opening of New York Junior Tennis and Learning’s Cary Leeds Center on Monday, June 15.

“This new facility will be an invaluable resource to the surrounding neighborhood,” said Bronx parks commissioner Iris Rodriguez Rosa, of the private-public partnership.

The multi-use 12,000-square foot, two-story clubhouse contains classrooms, a youth lounge and fitness center, and a technology learning lab that will facilitate NYJTL’s educational initiatives, as well as a fully-functional tennis club with locker rooms and a pro shop. Gluck+ designed and built the facility.

The center’s 20 tennis courts, 10 of which will be covered for weather, plus two under-construction exhibition courts with stadium seating, will host more than 6,000 hours per year of free tennis for New York City youth.

The center will offer a variety of programing for adults throughout the year, in addition to hosting a number of tournaments.

“This project is huge,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. at the event.

It’s another example of economic development in the Bronx, he said, as well as an incredible opportunity for kids to be introduced to a sport they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. As a mental sport in addition to a physical one, tennis offers incredible benefits, said Diaz, and NYJTL’s academic programming builds on that.

“[NYJTL] makes sure our kids are ready and prepared, not only for college but to take control of the future of the City of New York,” said Diaz.

Andrea Davis say NYJTL’s existing community tennis program has helped her young kids come out of their shells and make friends, as they love going to tennis each week.

The new Cary Leeds Center for Tennis and Learning opened on June 15 in Crotona Park.
Community News Group / Jaime Williams

“They feel more comfortable around kids their age,” said Davis.

The program has helped 13-year-old Summer Blackshear learn about focus and sportsmanship, and has given her leadership opportunities, she said.

She’s excited to use the brand new facility as she continues with NYJTL.

“I think its really cool,” said Blackshear of the center.

The center is a tribute to Cary Leeds, a star on Yale’s tennis team who went on to become a world-ranked player, competing in six U.S. Opens and five Wimbledon tournaments, where in 1981 he reached the semifinals in mixed doubles. After retiring from professional tennis, he attended business school and then co-founded a software company, while he coached youth tennis until he passed away in 2003. A column by his father, Larry Leeds, can be found on page 68.

“Cary really knew how important sports could be in changing the lives of children,” said NYJTL CEO Deborah Antoine.

NYJTL will not disappoint, said founder Skip Hartman, and will offer incredible opportunities for kids in the surrounding neighborhoods for years to come.

“This will be a path to success in life.”

(l to r): famed tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and former mayor and NYJTL supporter David Dinkins.
Photo courtesy of the Borough President’s office

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at

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