Spotlight: Qiana Levine’s Impactful Journey at PS127 


In the heart of Queens, at PS127, is Qiana Levine, an NYJTL ACES Program Director whose journey with the school is nothing short of inspiring. Celebrating nearly a decade of service, Qiana’s story is a testament to the profound impact one individual can have on the lives of many. 

Qiana’s path to PS127 began in an unexpected place: the retail world. While working at The Gap, her connection with a former colleague led her to discover an opportunity that aligned more closely with her passion for working with children and her educational background in forensic psychology from John Jay College. This transition from retail to youth development marked the beginning of a career dedicated to nurturing the next generation. 

Driven by an interest in understanding human behavior, Qiana initially pursued forensic psychology but found her calling in counseling and youth development. Her work at PS127 is a blend of her academic interests and her commitment to serving children who “look like me,” fostering an environment where young minds can see themselves reflected in their mentors. 

Qiana’s days are filled with managing the dynamic after-school program, from juggling administrative tasks to engaging directly with students and staff. Amid the chaos, her philosophy of treating each day as a unique adventure keeps her motivated. Her dedication extends beyond the program, especially in her role as a mother, ensuring her son experiences the joy and enrichment she strives to provide for every child at PS127. 

Qiana’s approach to leadership is rooted in compassion, consistency, and open communication. She has adeptly navigated challenges, including fostering strong relationships with school leadership and parents, to create a supportive and inclusive community. Her efforts have not only solidified the program’s presence but have also made a lasting impact on students and their families, many of whom see PS127’s after-school program as a second home. 

Qiana’s commitment to professional and personal growth led her to pursue a master’s degree in social work, further equipping her to make a difference in the lives of the children she serves.  

Through her leadership at PS127, Qiana Levine has created an environment where children can thrive, learn, and grow, supported by a community that believes in their potential. Qiana’s journey highlights the power of dedication, education, and compassion in transforming lives, making her a true inspiration to us all. 

The Winners of the 2023 NYJTL Mayor Dinkins Cup Are In!

The Mayor Dinkins Cup is the largest free junior interscholastic tennis competition in the nation, with players from all over New York City representing public, parochial, and private schools. This year we had 750 entries from public, private, and parochial schools in elementary, middle, and high school divisions and more than 500 kids in individual competitions representing all five boroughs and a total of 283 schools.

Formerly the Mayor’s Cup, NYJTL renamed the tournament the Mayor Dinkins Cup to honor NYC’s first Black Mayor and NYJTL Board Member, who served 35 years, David N. Dinkins. Below are the winners of the fierce competition:


? Mayor Dinkins Cup Final Awards Winners ?

Boys Varsity Team
Winner: Hunter College High School
Finalist: Beacon High School

Boys Varsity Singles
Winner: Erik Johansson
Finalist: David Clarke

Girls Varsity Singles
Winner: Chantajah Mills
Finalist: Debra Gil

Boys Varsity Doubles
Winners: Shawn Mitchell Yon/ Erik Johansson
Finalists: Stanley Hoo/ Vinay Palta

Girls Varsity Doubles
Winners: Chantajah Mills/ Jade Saintard
Finalists: Angelica Leon/ Patrycja Filonik

Boys Middle School Singles
Winner: Abel Jackson
Finalist: Tristan Stratton

Girls Middle School Singles
Winner: Isabella Doni
Finalist: Leila Patel

Boys Middle School
Doubles Winners: Abel Jackson/ Rowan Qalbani
Finalists: Antanas Daugis/ Tristan Stratton

Girls Middle School Doubles
Winners: Julia Ivanov/ Emma Palacio
Finalists: Isabella Miraflores/ Mana Brod

Boys Elementary School Singles- Yellow
Winner: Alexander Ferreira
Finalist: Buvan Muthusamy Girls

Elementary School Singles- Yellow
Winner: Anna Kapanadze
Finalist: Daniella Yoguyman

Boys Elementary School Singles- Green
Winner: Kareem Lubowski
Finalist: William Swiatocha

Girls Elementary School Singles- Green
Winner: Laura Jedlinska
Finalist: Astrid Narantika

NYJTL Will Award Record $89,000 to NYC Youth at Mayor Dinkins Cup

The annual NYJTL Mayor Dinkins Cup has returned to the Bronx from June 11-18, 2023 at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning. Eight scholarships will be awarded that will provide a total of $89,000 to program participants to help them achieve their collegiate ambitions. The scholarships will be presented to the winners during the final day of the tournament at the awards ceremony on June 18, 2023 at 2 pm.   

The $89,000 of scholarship awards for the benefit of underserved students is a significant increase over last year’s total of $70,000. The ceremony, which is open to the public, will present the young champions from the teams, singles, and doubles categories in addition to the recipients of the 8 scholarship awards. The scholarship awards include the Gavrin Family Foundation Scholarship, established by Metropolitan Commercial Bank; the Louis Marx, Jr. Educational Scholarship; and the Victor Kiam “Going For It” Scholarship. These are awarded to NYJTL participants with financial need who excel in tennis, academics, and character, and will be renewed annually based on good academic standing.  

The winners are:  

Gavrin Family Foundation Scholarship  

  • Jaden Coley, Brooklyn, Midwood High School 
  • Maya Ollivierre, Manhattan, Beacon High School 
  • Natalie Gosek, Queens, Saint Francis Preparatory School 

Louis Marx, Jr. Educational Scholarship  

  • Crismeily Rodriguez, Bronx, East Bronx Academy for the Future 
  • John Boateng, Manhattan, Frederick Douglass Academy 
  • Kyle-Lamar Morgan, Brooklyn, Pathways in Technology Early College High School  
  • Matthew Ackah, Bronx, NYC Charter High School for Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industries 

Victor Kiam “Going For It” Scholarship  

  • Keiko Arnold, Bronx, Theatre Arts Production Company School 

“Family Finals Day” is also a day of free activities, giveaways, and more for families to enjoy while their children take part in the tennis competition. 

“This year’s Mayor Dinkins Cup was a resounding success, and we were so proud to be able to kick off the summer in this way,” said Udai Tambar, President and CEO of New York Junior Tennis & Learning. “The Mayor Dinkins Cup gives hundreds of kids the opportunity to partake in a week of friendly competition with their peers, all while earning prizes, spending time with family, and strengthening their tennis skills. And this year, we were able to award $89,000 in scholarships to youth who have demonstrated what it means to be a scholar and an athlete on the court and away from it. Thanks to all who make this work possible.”  

The NYJTL Mayor Dinkins Cup brings players from all over New York City representing public, parochial, and private schools. Formerly known as the NYJTL Mayors Cup, the tournament was renamed in honor of NYJTL’s late board member and the first Black mayor of New York City Mayor David Dinkins.   

The NYJTL Mayor Dinkins Cup kicked off at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning on June 11, 2023. The awards ceremony will be held on June 18, 2023 at 2 pm. Come join and cheer on our winners and scholarship recipients!  

For more information on the Mayor Dinkins Cup, please visit or contact Tournament Director Michele Cope at For more information on NYJTL scholarships, please visit

NYJTL Brings Prominent Female Leaders to 10 ACES Afterschool Sites for International Women’s Day

On March 8, 2023, to kick off Women’s History Month and celebrate International Women’s Day, NYJTL invited women of all backgrounds and careers to its ACES Afterschool Program (ACES) sites for a day of career exploration and preparation for future opportunities in STEM, athletics, education, and more. Women visited 10 sites in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn last Wednesday to talk with students about their careers — and then field questions. 

“It was great to see what their young minds are curious about,” says Carolina Valencia, Director of Partnerships and Communications at Epicenter NYC, who visited IS 061 in Queens.  

“Seeing the drive and ambition of the younger generation really inspired me,” recalls Rachel Nordlicht, MD candidate from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Female professionals from careers in business, medicine, public service, real estate, and more spoke to NYJTL’s ACES participants about their pathways in their own educational and professional journeys, leaving our kids inspired and determined!

Shenay Perry: Tennis Pro to Cary Leeds Center Coach

Tennis is a sport Shenay Perry has enjoyed for nearly her entire lifetime. The hobby began at the age of 4 when she would join her father, a fireman, on his days off to play on the courts in Maryland where she grew up. Soon, her talent for the game became apparent and her parents enrolled her in classes. Perry had a unique aptitude for sports like basketball, but tennis felt the most promising because of its number of female players. “As a young girl, I knew there were others like me doing well in tennis, so it seemed more accessible for someone like me,” she recalls. 

Tennis provided a space for her to explore her talents, though it was anything but easy. At the age of 16, Perry turned pro and began a memorable tennis career playing across the world reaching a career-high singles ranking of No. 40 and winning nine singles and seven doubles ITF titles.  

Being a professional tennis player was not easy. Perry remembers the long, strenuous days and constant self-criticism that the career demanded. “Nobody looked like me and that culture shock was hard, but it helped me grow and exposed me to a lot,” she says. Retiring from the WTA tour in 2010, Perry notes the often-overlooked social and emotional ways that tennis impacted her life, beyond her more physical skills seen on court. 

Shenay Perry returns a shot during day seven at Wimbledon in 2006.

“Touring shaped my discipline, drive, and ability to be present in all situations,” Perry describes. “The sport really does develop you both on and off the court.”  

Perry now brings these principles and more to her work at New York Junior Tennis & Learning’s flagship Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the south Bronx where she is the Associate Director of High Performance for Juniors & Adult Programs. Her favorite part of the job is being able to see so much growth in those she coaches. “I love seeing them rise to their potential, and it’s special to be a part of their path.” 

This growth is most important to Perry, noting NYJTL founder Arthur Ashe as a source of inspiration for her approach to coaching. “When he said ‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,’ it’s the epitome of everything,” she explains. “You have to put in your best and keep going.” 

New York Junior Tennis & Learning Celebrates Black History Month Highlighted By ITA Tennis Hall of Fame Legend Lori McNeil 

-Former Top 10 Pro Lori McNeil Leads Tennis Clinic, Guides Youth on Success On and Off the Court, on February 3-5- 

-Hundreds of Youth from Underserved Communities to Participate During NYJTL’s Annual Presidents’ Week Tournament During the Midwinter Break- 

(New York, NY)—Throughout its 51-year history, New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) has engaged youth from underserved communities – providing instruction, fun competition, skills development and a host of other educational supports to help NYC youth succeed on and off the court.  

This Black History Month is no exception: the nonprofit will continue its series bringing prominent Black professional tennis players to the organization’s flagship Cary Leeds Tennis Center for Tennis & Learning in Crotona Park in the South Bronx, bringing hundreds of youth together for an inspiring Community Tennis Program (CTP) Presidents’ Week Tournament during their midwinter break.   

This month, and every month, NYJTL strives to celebrate the accomplishments of our Black community, not only in the sport of tennis but also across our great city and throughout our history,” says NYJTL President & CEO Udai Tambar. “Through our tennis and education programming across all five boroughs, we diligently work to address the inequities still faced by our NYJTL families.”  

Holding Court: Player Series 

This Friday through Sunday (February 3-5), NYJTL will be hosting former professional tennis icon Lori McNeil at the Cary Leeds Center. Lori McNeil is a former pro and national USTA coach who was on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour for 17 years and reached career-high rankings of No. 8 in singles and No. 4 in doubles. The weekend will consist of tennis clinics and moderated discussions by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame athlete. The activities will inspire more than 200 children from across the city to improve their tennis game and achieve academic excellence in school.   

McNeil’s visit is the second installment of NYJTL’s Holding Court: Player Series, which launched last year with inaugural guest Chris Eubanks. Eubanks, another distinguished Black professional tennis player, has a career high ranking of No. 103 in the world, and is a tennis commentator on the Tennis Channel. Currently on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour, the college graduate participated in tennis clinics with NYJTL program participants and spoke about his career based on the theme, “I am a Scholar Athlete”.  

It’s so important for us to bring excellence to the underserved youth we serve because many great icons come from similar backgrounds,” says NYJTL Director of Tennis Ahsha Rolle. “These events inspire our kids to dream bigger and strive to become the next generation of stars.”  

On Friday, McNeil will lead tennis clinics from 2-6 pm with young participants from NYJTL’s ACES Afterschool Program and from the community. On Saturday, McNeil will visit and work with the Scholar Athlete Program and CTP from 11 am- 3 pm. NYJTL’s 2022 Scholar Athlete Program provides students with academic support and intensive tennis instruction with the goal of 100% high school graduation and college entrance to create socioeconomic mobility.  

Community Tennis Program (CTP) Presidents’ Week Tournament 

Later this month, during mid-winter break from February 20-24, NYJTL will present its annual Community Tennis Program (CTP) Presidents’ Week Tournament. This tournament brings program participants from elementary and middle schools across the city to the Cary Leeds Tennis Center for tennis and fitness competitions, along with awards ceremonies on each day.   

While Black History Month is a moment to celebrate the stories of legends on and off the court, NYJTL continues to do this year-round, not only showing youths that they can succeed but also providing access and opportunities to achieve their dreams.  

About NYJTL:  

The mission of New York Junior Tennis & Learning is to develop the character of young people through tennis and education for a lifetime of success on and off the court. Since 1971, NYJTL has changed lives through tennis, education, healthy living, and character development programs. Today, it is the largest youth tennis and education non-profit in the nation, reaching more than 85,000 K-12 New York City youth.  

NYJTL provides after school programming in approximately 30 schools and community tennis programming at approximately 40 sites throughout New York City in the summer months and at additional sites that operate during the school year. In addition, NYJTL designed, funded (with NYC), built and operates the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, at which it provides free and commercial tennis programming year-round as well as life skills, character development and healthy living lessons. All NYJTL community tennis and after school programs are offered at no cost to its participants. Learn more at  

For more information on NYJTL’s Black History Month schedule and other offerings, contact:  

Sadia Saba 
Communications & Content Specialist