Maria Sanz has been both a student of New York Junior Tennis & Learning and a teacher to young students picking up a racket for the first time.
Based on the suggestion from her softball coach, Maria joined one of NYJTL’s free community tennis programs near her home in the Rockaways when she was 10 years old. She immediately developed a strong love for the sport.
“I fell in love the first time I picked up a racket,” she says. “I kept making new friends and I liked playing tennis.”
Thirteen years later, you can find Maria serving as an NYJTL tennis specialist at PS 42 in Far Rockaway, about two miles from her home. A 2013 graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in Psychology, she has worked with the nonprofit since 2009.
Maria is an avid athlete. She has played softball throughout her life and can still be spotted on weekends in center field. She also works out, runs and enjoys bowling.
Back in 2009 she suffered an injury that sidelined her from softball and during that time she reconnected with tennis. It was a blessing in disguise. Maria went on to play tennis for four years at Brooklyn College. During that time she served as Captain and CUNYAC All-Star for three years. In 2013 she won the CUNYAC Sportsmanship Award and was an Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar.
Maria now works with about 90 students from kindergarten to fifth grade at PS 42, teaching them about teamwork and good sportsmanship. “They do a lot of work with partners so they learn to work with each other and help each other out,” she says.
She most enjoys seeing them progress – as players and as persons. She says, “Sometimes they may not be able to hit the ball at all or consistently, but then they return and they are able to do something they were not able to before!”