The next Serena Williams or Arthur Ashe could be coming soon, right out of Bed-Stuy, now that a proper court has been made available to the aspiring tennis team at .
A perfectly sunny day set the stage for a press conference this morning held on the tarmac of a brand-new tennis court -- newly refurbished for the students at BGHS, thanks to the work of City Councilmember Al Vann, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and a $25,000 donation from Sprite.
Since September 2010, the BGHS tennis court was unusable due to a large sink hole caused by a drainage malfunction. When contracters first began working on the court just one week ago today, they reported the hole was large enough to fit a small Honda.
But through the Sprite Spark Parks program donation, the school has been able to refurbish the court. Also, USTA Eastern donated a new net for the court, along with new tennis rackets and tennis balls.
“This adds to the momentum of the renaissance that is occurring here at Boys and Girls High School,” said Vann. "Through our new leadership and with our new principal Bernard Gassaway, we’re beginning to make big moves again at Boys and Girls, ones that not only focus on athletics, but also are increasing the academic standards.”
Elmer Anderson, BGHS tennis coach also expressed excitement about new efforts by the administration at BGHS.
“This year, we’re pushing our athletes to excel in their studies as much as they would excel on the court, because they are students first,” said Anderson. “Just in case that basketball, football or tennis scholarship does not happen when they’re ready to graduate, we want them to still have their academic record they can lean on to give them a chance at being successful.”
BGHS Assistant Principal Bridget Carrington, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Coca-Cola Maspeth Distribution Center Manager Andre Boothe, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and half a dozen young members of the BGHS tennis team also were at the press conference to help christen the spankin’-new courts.
“Tennis is not just about the sport and what it does for the body, but also the analytical skills it develops, the discipline, focus and strategy,” said Linda Mann, managing director of USTA Community Tennis Development. Mann said she had a particular interest in BGHS, because her father was born and raised in Bed-Stuy.
“Our kids often play basketball and football and even soccer. So for me, it is heartwarming when I can see a non-traditional athletic program like tennis in a community like this one.”
Through the Sprite Spark Parks Project for Schools sweepstakes, 25 schools across the country can enter for a chance to receive a $25,000 grant to liven up areas on their athletic campuses.
“This initiative is just one of many that we have planned to show our young people in our community that we care about them and believe in the things they can achieve,” said Vann.