Tennis program serves up big advantage for inner-city kids

theGRIO REPORT - The Kings County Tennis League is giving inner-city youth the opportunity to learn and play tennis...

The Kings County Tennis League is giving inner-city youth the opportunity to learn and play tennis.

The free tennis league is comprised of four clubs held at different public housing projects in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.

The Marcy Tennis Club, run next to the Marcy housing projects, was featured on Nightly New‘s Making a Difference segment.

Michael McCasland is a forensic scientist who started the non-profit organization when he moved into the area five years ago from Washington, DC.

“It’s being out here with other kids and it’s my career,” 10-year-old Nia said of her hopes to be like her favorite player, Serena Williams.

“It’s not just hitting the ball back and forth,” 14-year-old Brandon said. “It is also about strategies, angles, math.”

Lawyers, doctors, chefs and other professionals from around the city volunteer for the clubs.

“Tennis [is] the medium to have these interactions, so these kids can see what opportunities are out there,” McCasland said.

The camp uses portable nets and even low chain link fences to create courts.

The United States Tennis Association took notice of the league and is now a major contributor to the program.

“We don’t have to have a regulation tennis court in order for tennis to make a difference,” Jill Fonte said, a representative from USTA.

It’s more than just tennis.

“It’s a way for students to have positive role models and mentors, people that they can relate to,” Lafayette Club volunteer Meredith Atkins said.

“We’re laying the ground work for some great character traits, for some great people,” Tompkins Club volunteer Jonathan Williams said.  “We might have the future president that’s here and we don’t even know it.”

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Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals