MOUNT VERNON, N.Y., Sept. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Westchester Plaza Tennis Academy for Kids in downtown Mt. Vernon will offer its after school program for children between the ages of 4 and 18 beginning in November, the Jerry Alleyne Memorial Foundation (JAMF) announced today. JAMF launched the programming in 2011, with the assistance of Urban American, owner and operator of Westchester Plaza, to give youth in Mount Vernon access to a sport that is often absent from urban centers. The schools participating include Edward Williams Elementary, Grimes Elementary and Longfellow Elementary.
The Westchester Plaza Tennis Academy recently wrapped up its popular summer program, in which over 160 Mount Vernon youths participated.
"We are thrilled how the kids in this community have embraced tennis with such passion," said Loretta Van Raalte, Director and Founder, JAMF. "We now have young people who began playing tennis with us when they were 10 or 11 years-old and as older teenagers, and they are working with us to teach the younger players. It's incredibly heartening."
"When we got here the weeds were growing over the fence, now we might be growing the next generation of U.S. Open hopefuls," said James Eisenberg of Urban American. "Tennis is a great way for kids to exercise and stay healthy, but it's also a great way to build self-confidence, leadership and pride. Our hope is that the Westchester Plaza Tennis Academy for Kids will be a foundation of opportunity for Mount Vernon's youth for generations to come."
JAMF runs various youth tennis programs throughout the region, and five of its participants have gone on to compete in USTA tournaments and earn rankings, and eight others are playing for their college teams. Many of these players have come to Westchester Plaza and are now teaching the younger players.
Urban American bought the Westchester Plaza residential development at 40 East Sidney Avenue in 2009; in the process of making major renovations to the property and grounds, it discovered the tennis courts across the street hadn't been used or maintained in at least 12 years.
With guidance from the New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL), Urban American decided to renovate the courts—including resurfacing the court with the same type of material used on professional courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center—and providing USTA Quickstart courts and equipment that could be used by children and adults. "Since the back courts were a little short for regulation match play, we figured out that it would be a perfect training center for kids and painted permanent Quickstart lines along with the regular lines," said Eisenberg. Youth tennis programs operated by the NYJTL began on the courts in 2009, and expanded significantly in 2011 when the NYJTL brought in JAMF to operate the program.
In addition, Urban American's principal owners, the Eisenberg family, were pioneers in the development of the modern day tennis camp, having owned the world-renowned Welby Van Horn Tennis Camp for over 20 years from the 1970's to the 1990's.
SOURCE Urban American