Meet Christopher and Isis, the Recipients of the 2019 Leadership Luncheon Student Awards

Last year’s Leadership Luncheon was held at the Metropolitan Club on Wednesday, November 6, 2019.  Tommy Hilfiger, Andrea Jaeger, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands served as honorees, and Christopher Perez and Isis Rodriguez won the student awards.

Christopher Perez – Recipient of the Seymour Propp Achievement Award

The Seymour Propp Achievement Award recognizes an exemplary student who has demonstrated growth in tennis and life skills during their participation with NYJTL, particularly in the Intensive Training Program. 

The availability of free tennis lessons introduced Christopher to a sport that now plays a central part in his life.  Christopher takes two buses to get to the Cary Leeds Center each day, and despite the long commute, he began showing up for every possible opportunity to play.  He quickly improved, getting accepted into the Intensive Training Program and then eventually the Tournament Team. He played in the 2019 NYJTL Mayor’s Cup presented by Disney and joined his high school tennis team, earning the Varsity MVP award the last three years.  In his spare time, Christopher also coaches at the Crotona Park Community Tennis Program site to inspire the next generation to discover the sport that he loves so much.

Christopher’s passion for tennis has taught him valuable life skills that he applies off the court and in the classroom.  Juggling school, tennis team practice, getting to the Cary Leeds Center a few times a week, and competing in tennis tournaments takes commitment and time management skills.  Christopher told us, “Tennis has become apart of me and is not just something I can leave behind”. With his applications submitted, he is now anxiously awaiting college acceptances. 

Isis Rodriguez – Recipient of NYJTL Sportsmanship Award

The NYJTL Sportsmanship Award recognizes a student who shows great character and sportsmanship, as evaluated by NYJTL coaches, mentors, and educators.  The winner demonstrates the ability to make all feel welcome on and off the court, win or lose with grace, and serves as a role model for conduct and integrity.  

Tennis has given Isis the opportunity to break out of her shell.  She credits the sport and NYJTL’s ACES Afterschool Program for helping her find herself, and sparking an interest and passion she didn’t know she had.  Once extremely shy and afraid to speak, tennis ultimately gave Isis the confidence to improve her skills, take risks, and gain confidence in herself. Isis is a leader on and off the court, winning decisive matches for her team and supporting and encouraging her teammates from the sidelines.  Her spirit is infectious: her mom noticed the change, her teammates noticed, and NYJTL noticed. Isis was named the captain of her ACES Afterschool tennis team last year and led them to victory in the elementary team division at the 2019 NYJTL Mayor’s Cup presented by Disney.

Isis’s transformation through tennis translated to success in school as well.  Her classmates started seeing her confidence in the classroom. Although Isis’s middle school does not have an ACES Afterschool Program, she and her mom made a plan to further her success through a local Community Tennis Program, where she can continue making great strides in her tennis and character development.

The January Racket

Goodbye 2019, 2020 Here We Come!

This past year, NYJTL created many learning opportunities for NYC youth, from providing SAT prep classes to building a community bond with the NYPD 42nd Precinct. In addition, NYJTL Capstone Events enriched the youth education experience with non-traditional forms of learning outside the classroom designed to get kids on their feet. These events included our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Expo, Visual Arts Showcase, and Youth Leadership Summit, among others.

NYJTL believes that the life skills gained through our tennis and education programs are a catalyst for long-term achievement! Every program, activity and event is designed to enable under-resourced children in New York City to grow with the game and to set them on a pathway of success.

Looking Back – 2019

We coordinated with Nike to give five NYJTL girls the chance of a lifetime to meet Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Madison Keys, Simona Halep, and Sloane Stephens during Nike’s Queens of the Future event.  The inaugural NYJTL Bronx Open afforded 85 NYJTL kids the chance to get up close and personal with the world’s best professional tennis players as ball kids.

Our flagship, The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning greeted more than 15,000 guests through their doors this year and hosted the NYJTL Mayor’s Cup, the NY Empires, the NYJTL Bronx Open, and the US Open Junior Qualifying Tournament, on top of dozens of local and national junior tournaments.  The Cary Leeds Center welcomed First Book and Disney to distribute 20,000 free books to the community and partnered with Tie Break Tens to host a tiebreak tournament and fly out eight lucky juniors to the BNP Paribas Tournament in Indian Wells.

Looking Ahead – 2020

NYJTL is thankful to work with the NY Open again this year to bring our ACES and Community Tennis Program children to see world-class tennis at this 250k International men’s tournament!

Meet One of Our Kids! 

Meet 11-year-old Rachel Breland (third from the left), the Community Tennis Program’s Holiday Tournament 14s winner!  Rachel’s three older brothers also played in CTP and are now coaches. Rachel plays year-round in our CTP program and has shown incredible growth both on and off the court.

Take two minutes to see our 2019 highlight slideshow featuring NYJTL kids!

Take a deeper dive and view this year’s Annual Report to learn more about how NYJTL enables kids to Grow With The Game!

Up Next:

What We’re Reading:

Goldfarb Properties Becomes First Local Sponsor to Support NYJTL Bronx Open

For Immediate Release

Bronx, NY – When it was announced on June 17 that New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) will be hosting a $250,000 WTA International Series tournament at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in Crotona Park during the week preceding the US Open, Goldfarb Properties immediately reached out to support NYJTL’s undertaking.

“We recognize the importance of bringing world-class events to the Bronx,” said Joshua Goldfarb, Partner at Goldfarb Properties. “Our company is proud to join the NYJTL Bronx Open as an official sponsor.”

Major financial backing has been secured by NYJTL from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and United States Tennis Association to bring world-class tennis to the Bronx. Additional supporters include the USTA Eastern Section, donors Deborah Larkin and Lawrence Leeds, and Taste of Tennis, which has designated NYJTL as a beneficiary of its summer event.

“We are thrilled to welcome Goldfarb Properties to the NYJTL team,” said Tournament Director Joe Ceriello. “We hope that Goldfarb is the first of many local Bronx businesses to associate with the NYJTL Bronx Open which will be broadcast daily nationwide on Tennis Channel.”

Goldfarb Properties entered the Bronx real estate market 40 years ago in 1979 and has expanded to more than 15 Bronx properties in its portfolio of more 6,000 residential units and commercial properties throughout the tri-state metropolitan area.

“NYJTL serves the New York City metropolitan area where we have our presence,” said Goldfarb. “We consider it an important civic duty to be committed within the communities we serve.”

Among its philanthropic efforts, Goldfarb supports the New York Restoration Project, which is focused on preserving and improving New York City parks, the New Rochelle Police Foundation, the Police Benevolent Association, the Hospital for Special Surgery, among other projects.

Women’s Professional Tennis to Return to Bronx

NYJTL to Host Pre-US Open Tournament at Cary Leeds Center


For immediate release


NEW YORK (June 17, 2019) – New York Junior Tennis & Learning will host the NYJTL Bronx Open, a WTA International level women’s professional tournament offering $250,000 in prize money at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the Bronx from August 16-24, 2019.

“We are thrilled to welcome women’s professional tennis back to the Bronx after a seven-year break during the construction of the Cary Leeds Center, “said NYJTL CEO George Guimaraes. “The WTA and the USTA have both stepped up to make this a world-class tournament to serve as the players’ final preparation for the US Open which starts two days after our final.”

The NYJTL Bronx Open will be the only WTA tournament during the week prior to the US Open and will feature a 48-singles qualifying and 30-player main draw plus a 16-team doubles draw.

WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon stated, “We look forward to bringing the WTA Tour to the Bronx this season, providing our world class athletes the opportunity to compete at the new state of the art Cary Leeds Center.”

“The Bronx looks forward to the return of women’s professional tennis to our community,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This tournament will inspire the next generation of future sports stars to pick up a racket and get out to play in the new Cary Leeds Center in Crotona Park. We are grateful to NYJTL for everything you do as a partner in the community, and we thank the WTA for bringing the world’s best players to the Bronx.”

“NYJTL previously promoted one WTA Challenger and more than 15 USTA Pro Circuit professional tennis tournaments in Crotona Park from 1993-2012,” explained NYJTL Tournament Director Joe Ceriello.

“While temporary facilities were constructed each year in the past, this year the $26.5-million Cary Leeds Center will provide a world-class facility with two stadium courts and access to a total of 20 additional courts,” he continued. “The Cary Leeds Center also includes a two-story, 12,000-square-foot clubhouse with classrooms, and the Victor Kiam Stadium and the Pershing Square Stadium create an up-close and intimate tennis viewing experience.”

“Introducing new people to the sport of tennis and opening up our doors to the community is our life’s work,” said Liezel Huber, seven-time Grand Slam Champion and Executive Director of Tennis at the Cary Leeds Center.

NYJTL is the largest tennis and education non-profit in the nation committed to creating the ultimate aspirational experience for thousands of New York City children served through its programs.

The tournament has received generous support from Platinum sponsors RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), the United States Tennis Association, Gold sponsors USTA Eastern, Taste of Tennis, and Deborah Larkin and Larry Leeds, who co-founded the Heroes Circle for individual contributors. Media and broadcast sponsors include the Tennis Channel and Vector Media.

Learn more at

About New York Junior Tennis & Learning

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 85,000 K-12 New York City youth.

In June 2015, the $26.5 million Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning opened its doors as the flagship home of NYJTL in the heart of the Bronx.  In April 2017, the Cary Leeds Center completed its final phase of construction with the opening of the Pershing Square Stadium, the Victor Kiam Stadium, and the Dalia and Larry Leeds Viewing Bridge.  The Cary Leeds Center provides more than 6,000 hours of free tennis court time annually to the community’s under resourced youth.

Contact: Joe Ceriello
(917) 693-6672


There’s no stopping ACES Afterschool Participants when it comes to creativity, and the kids held nothing back for the Fourth Annual Visual Arts Showcase, Art In Motion: #WATCHMEWORK.

The showcase was held on June 11, 2019 at the CUNY York College Milton C. Bassin Performing Arts Center, a location that holds great significance as it represents a bright future for the students in higher education. The event offers an opportunity for teachers, friends, family, and the students themselves to celebrate their achievements during the school year, embark on a creative journey and explore what it means to be an NYJTL artist.

For the first time, the showcase also honored staff achievements during the NYJTL “SUPER ACE” award ceremony. NYJTL staff members who demonstrate strong leadership skills and moral character were recognized as role models for both their peers and the students.

Though NYJTL is a tennis and education-based organization, leaders strive to instill in their students the passion for creativity and learning that goes beyond the court and the classroom.

NYJTL ACES Afterschool Students Participate in Spring Capstone Events

The Youth Leadership Summit and STEAM Expo, two of NYJTL’s Capstone Events, brought ACES Afterschool Program participants together to develop social-emotional skills, share projects they’ve been working on, and engage in STEM and art activities.

Youth Leadership Summit

April 23, 2019 at M.S. 383

The theme for this year’s Youth Leadership Summit was Level Up, a nod to the transition from middle to high school which can be a highly stressful experience. Nearly 300 students engaged in activities from building rollercoasters in STEM workshops to developing stress-relieving techniques in social-emotional art exercises.

Activity Specialists shared stories of stressful times, such as auditioning for performing arts high schools and the pressure of achieving a high score on entrance exams for specialized high schools. Students learned self-management techniques to effectively manage stress and stay motivated in the face of academic challenges.

Each child received stress balls, journals for self-reflection, and more in order to continue to build upon what they learned.

The day concluded with a showcase of performances from short plays to dance to choir.


April 24, 2019 at I.S. 61

The 3rd Annual STEAM Expo was a day full of scientific experiements and art projects, such as harnessing electricity from lemons, preventing the spread of germs, and creating art with 3D pens.

New this year was the introduction of Robofun, a dynamic workshop where children learn to build, program, and function robots. These workshops ignite curiosity and creativity while teaching problem solving and scientific thinking.

The event ended with a celebration of individual achievements at the science fair. Over 20 entries were judged based on creativity, ingenuity, and critical thinking to result in three winners.

First Place
Josiah Sloane

Second Place
Brooke Camacho

Third Place
Madison Kelly