The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning had its grand opening in Crotona Park last Monday in an economically impoverished area of the South Bronx. It is a testament to the potential of using tennis to encourage education and improve the community.
This facility, a labor of love honoring former tennis professional and Yale star, Cary Leeds, was built with private donations through New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) and public support from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
Ron Nano, a former top Eastern junior (and a protégé of my facility), will direct the Cary Leeds Center and he will be an inspiring leader and role model.
I'm a strong believer that the future of tennis will be bright if players and facilities recognize the bigger picture and use tennis to serve the community and return what the sport has provided to them.
I hope the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning will motivate other communities to follow and recognize the potential of tennis and sports as a vehicle for change.
Steven Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.