The Kings County Tennis League uses tennis as a tool for youth and community building in underserved neighborhoods by transforming abandoned playgrounds into courts

Kings County Tennis League, BK Reader, youth building, youth development, youth sports, United States Tennis Association, Marcy Houses, Lafayette Gardens, Sumner Houses, Tompkins Houses
photo credit: KCTL

While the tennis pros are warming up for the U.S. Open in Flushing, the next generation of world class players may be groomed right now in Bed Stuy with the help of Kings County Tennis League (KCTL), reports The Brooklyn-based nonprofit uses tennis as a tool for youth development and community building in underserved neighborhoods all across the borough by transforming abandoned playgrounds into courts.

The Kings County Tennis League was founded in 2010 by Michael McCasland to engage and inspire kids through non-traditional activities such as tennis. Since its early days, the program has grown from one student at a site near the Marcy Houses, to 150 players across five locations in or near Bed Stuy housing developments, to a full-fledged league, bringing the sport right to where they live.

The organization provides free tennis programming and equipment, including rackets, tennis balls and uniforms. It also offers year-round programs and trips to matches, made possible with the help of volunteers, as well as donations and grants from the likes of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The next trip on September 4, will take dozens of students to the U.S. Open where they will participate in a demonstration with the USTA.

KCTL also uses its funding to renovate and maintain existing courts such as the ones at Marcy Houses and Tompkins Houses. Most recently, a 20,000 renovation transformed a space at Sumner Houses into a new tennis court, with net and net post, designed for young players ages 10 and under.

Before the space was not so functional –  now its a tennis center, McCasland said. Now the kids can play there even when were not there.

The organization is already gearing up for the next overhaul: A playground near Lafayette Gardens is planned to be renovated in 2018.

Were always looking to expand our programming and improve the sites, said program manager David Webley. Our goal is to not only to provide free tennis to the kids, but to grow and build in the community.

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