This past Monday we had the chance to be a part of the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Cary Leeds Center in Crotona Park. New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) opened this flagship facility, a place for both viewing tennis and for children of the Bronx to have a chance to learn both the game of tennis as well as the discipline that comes with it.
The new center is quite amazing, from the physical design to the programming that will take place there. Check out some photos below of the event as well as the official press release with all of the information about the new center:
New York Junior Tennis & Learning Opens Cary Leeds Center in Crotona Park on Monday, June 15th
– Named for stellar world-ranked player, Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning will reach 30,000 children and youth in the South Bronx –
(New York, N.Y.) – New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) launched its flagship facility, the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, in Crotona Park in the South Bronx with a ribbon-cutting and celebration on Monday, June 15, 2015.
The event – a testament to the value of public-private partnerships – drew hundreds of supporters from the worlds of tennis, fashion, government and civic engagement to the stunning new facility at 1720 Crotona Avenue in Crotona Park in the Bronx.
Attending were NYJTL Board Chairman Martin S. Goldberg, NYJTL President and CEO Deborah Antoine, Founder and Chairman Emeritus Lewis “Skip” Hartman, Project Campaign Chairs Larry Leeds and Tory Kiam, New York City’s 106th Mayor David Dinkins, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, local, city and state officials, community leaders, and many more.
The $26.5 million Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning has been decades in the making, and a testament to the longstanding commitment of public and private partners to create a center that will touch the lives of an estimated 30,000 students in the South Bronx.
Conceptually, the venue is designed as a series of platforms—both for viewing tennis, from beginner to professional level, and metaphorically a platform to encourage afterschool learning—a project to create the opportunity for inner-city kids to experience success on the tennis court as well as in life.
The Center is a tribute to Cary Leeds, a star on Yale’s tennis team who went on to become a world-ranked player (ranking #12 in doubles), 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, all while enthusiastically teaching tennis to gifted youngsters until he passed away in 2003.
“Cary Leeds loved teaching the sport, especially to young players,” said Cary’s father, LarryLeeds, who served as Project Campaign Co-Chair. “As a place where children of all backgrounds will access tennis and educational opportunities, the Center will be a fitting memorial to Cary’s life and will make the world a better place, because he was here.”
Designed and constructed by GLUCK+ with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the Cary Leeds Center will house a two-story, 12,000-square-foot clubhouse and educational facility, with two world-class exhibition courts and 20 outdoor courts, 10 of which will be indoors seasonally under air structures. The building and stadium courts are partially buried as a strategy to minimize the impact of a large structure in the park and also to take advantage of natural geothermal heating and cooling of below ground surfaces. Courtside, the lower level opens directly onto the two sunken exhibition courts. It will serve as the flagship home for NYJTL coaches and tutors and provide free year-round instruction and play for young people as well as a regional facility for competition and recreational tennis.
The Center – located in the 127-acre Crotona Park – will serve children in one of the poorest Congressional districts in the United States, offering more than 6,000 free court hours for community use and providing space for educators to help young people improve their performance in school.
“This location dovetails with our mission to develop the character of young people through tennis and education for a lifetime of success on and off the court,” said NYJTL CEO and President Deborah Antoine. “We’re deeply committed to serving young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn and play tennis, which is especially important in low-income communities.”
“This complex public-private tennis project in the heart of the South Bronx will positively impact so many young lives,” said Founder and Chairman Emeritus Lewis “Skip” Hartman. “That will quickly overshadow and make us forget the 15 long years it took to locate, fundraise, build, and organize the operations of this fabulous facility. ”
“Crotona Park is already known for its lofty trees and tranquil lake,” said New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “Now, thanks to a partnership with New York Junior Tennis & Learning, we are thrilled to add a world-class tennis center to this flagship park. The new facility will provide free, year round programming for young people, and expand recreational opportunities for everyone in the Bronx, whether you’re picking up a racket for the first time, or already serving aces.”
“Of the many ideas and projects that Skip Hartman has put forward to improve the lives and experiences of our city’s children, including the founding of the New York Junior Tennis League, his perseverance in developing the Leeds Center over these long years, has got to be among the greatest things he has done,” said former Mayor David Dinkins. “I am thrilled to have been part of this project’s evolution and share in its opening day.”
“We are honored to have been a partner with this important organization, designing and building for the future of our city,” said Peter Gluck, Founder and Principal at GLUCK+. “The building is designed as a series of platforms: for viewing tennis from multiple vantage points, as a launching point for young players into the world of competitive tennis, and as a metaphor for the educational program providing young students opportunities to succeed in a supportive environment.”
NYJTL is naming the new clubhouse after sports icon and social justice pioneer Billie Jean King. The clubhouse will contain classrooms, the youth lounge and fitness center, and a technology center, the Tennis Channel Learning Lab.
“New York Junior Tennis and Learning’s new Cary Leeds Center is rooted in a great cause, promoting the love of tennis and healthy exercise in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in our country,” said Billie Jean King. “NYJTL strives to build champions on and off the court, and I fully expect this new venue to not only foster a deep appreciation of tennis and education in this community but to make a difference in the lives of so many.”
“The new Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning is a great example of a community’s commitment to its greatest assets: its children,” said Jorge Montalvo, Deputy Secretary for Economic Opportunity for the State of New York. “As a graduate of the NYJTL, I know this facility will provide tremendous educational and fitness opportunities and help shape kids to become well-rounded individuals. I congratulate everyone who made this possible.”
“The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning is a project I am incredibly proud of,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “This is a transformative development not just for the surrounding community but for the entire Bronx, and that is why I have provided $2 million of my own capital funding towards its completion. Projects such as this are helping to make the Bronx a new center for sports and athletics, while also offering our youth new recreation opportunities that they both need and deserve. New York Junior Tennis & Learning has served up an ace with this new project.”
“Nothing enhances the Bronx District Attorney’s Office’s mission of combatting crime more than efforts which keep young people on the path to productive lives,” said Robert Johnson, Bronx County District Attorney. “The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning will improve classroom performance, promote physical fitness, make constructive use of afterschool time, teach healthy competition, and create fun experiences for students. I couldn’t welcome it more.”
In addition to the 20 adjacent tennis courts (10 outdoor and 10 covered in winter for year-round play) and two-story clubhouse, the Cary Leeds Center also will be home to two exhibition courts – the Victor Kiam exhibition court and The Pershing Square Foundation exhibition court – with stadium seating for 1,000 people; this final component will be completed during the project’s final phase in 2016.
NYJTL thanks the Kiam and Leeds families, Bill and Karen Ackman and The Pershing Square Foundation, Billie Jean King, and the numerous other donors who donated to create the Center.
NYJTL is the fourth largest provider of after school services in New York City, and serves 75,000 children a year through its programs and services at 84 locations throughout the city.The Center will offer a variety of programs for adults throughout the indoor (October to April) and outdoor (April to October) seasons, such as Cardio Tennis, Learn and Play, Private & Group Lessons, and League Competitions. Hourly court rentals also will be available, and senior discounts will be offered.
Additionally, the Center will bring new energy and financial vitality to the South Bronx by featuring major local, national, and international professional tennis tournaments that will draw visitors from around the world.
The Cary Leeds Center was designed and built by GLUCK+, which received the 30th Annual Award for Excellence in Design by the New York City Public Design Commission under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
About New York Junior Tennis & Learning
NYJTL was founded in 1971 (then, as New York Junior Tennis League) by Arthur Ashe and Chairman Emeritus Lewis “Skip” Hartman. NYJTL’s mission is to develop the character of young people through tennis and education for a lifetime of success on and off the court. Through tennis, academic enrichment, healthy living, and character development programs, NYJTL teaches life skills to underserved youth in New York City. The experience and culture of tennis, along with academic support services, have helped hundreds of thousands of young people improve their performance in school and raise their aspirations, inspiring success both on and off the court. Learn more at www.nyjtl.org and about the Cary Leeds Center atwww.caryleedstennis.org.