The NYJTL Mayor Dinkins Cup Launches in 2022

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. Formerly the Mayor’s Cup, New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) renamed the tournament the Mayor Dinkins Cup to honor David N. Dinkins, NYC’s first Black Mayor and NYJTL Board Member for 35 years. This year’s Mayor Dinkins Cup will be held at The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning from May 26 to June 5.

“Renaming the NYJTL Mayor’s Cup in honor of Mayor David N. Dinkins is extra special for our organization as the late Mayor was actively involved in our grassroots efforts, whether it be this championship or at our annual National Essay Contest, throughout his long-standing tenure on our board,” says Udai Tambar, NYJTL CEO & President. “His devotion to the service of NYC children and tennis was evident to all that encountered him and I am happy that his life-long passions will continue to be championed through our work.  Now every NYC youth will have the opportunity to play in this tournament bearing his name.”

History of Mayor Dinkins Cup

Mayor Dinkins had a longstanding connection with tennis, and a cornerstone of his identity as a public servant was his dedication to diversifying the sport. As an NYJTL Board Member, he championed its work to develop the character of youth through tennis and education free of charge to New York City’s most vulnerable populations. He was a close friend of NYJTL founder Arthur Ashe, and in 1990 wrote in The New York Times:“These programs teach our young people more than just tennis. They reinforce values such as discipline, courteousness, good sportsmanship, team spirit and responsibility. And because many of these programs are held within our schools, they teach our children the importance of a good education and encourage them to stay in school.”  In his tenure as the first African-American mayor of the city, he negotiated the deal to create Arthur Ashe Stadium and helped ensure that NYC remained the host of the US Open, cementing the legacy of Ashe and ensuring that this global event stayed in the city. 

Working closely with the Public School Athletic League (PSAL), Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA), local private school coaches, and tennis supporters, NYJTL formed a tournament committee which created the unique format of team and individual events in both singles and doubles competitions. With the support of so many, the formerly named NYJTL Mayor’s Cup became a reality in 1988 and has continued to engage the community ever since.

The NYJTL Mayor Dinkins Cup has offered both individual and team competitions for more than 800 elementary, middle, and high school students. Similar to the NCAA Championships, students of all levels have the opportunity to represent their school as well as to compete in individual events.

NYJTL Scholarships

NYJTL’s vision is to enable youth to grow with the game and it is proud to recognize outstanding youth who excel in tennis, academics, and character. Through the newly established Louis Marx, Jr. Educational Scholarship, Victor Kiam “Going For It” Scholarship, and AYS Leadership & Innovation Scholarship, NYJTL is able to recognize exceptional achievement and award college scholarships to outstanding students. NYJTL scholarships will be awarded June 5 at 2 pm at the closing ceremony.

For more information. please visit or contact Tournament Director Michele Cope at

Serve & Connect is Underway

On February 12, the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning kicked off Serve & Connect, a community engagement program designed to bring youth and uniformed police together in a fun, physical environment to promote informal mentoring, relationship building, and the delivery of a life skills curriculum. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the program brought together officers from the 42nd Precinct and youth from the community to participate in activities on and off the tennis court.  

Serve & Connect serves youth from communities in the Bronx, many of whom are from the Phipps and Murphy local housing development projects, and supports the initiation of positive relations with the police. The nine-week program takes place on Saturdays from 3-5 PM, which begins with time playing tennis on the court while the officers are in plain clothes, followed by life skills mentoring in the classroom with uniformed officers. Most of the young participants are shocked when they discover that the adults they were enjoying playing on the court with were police officers all along. One of NYJTL’s core values is commitment to community, which includes a dedication to service, diversity, and inclusion. Now more than ever, relations between police officers and community members, especially those of color, are often characterized by hostility and mistrust. The unique Serve & Connect program initiates relationships between young people and the NYPD through positive interactions, mentorship, and trust.  

NYJTL’s very own Recreational Coordinator of ACES, Victor Ayudant, embodies the organization’s commitment to community and character in his volunteerism to the program.  Victor has been a part of NYJTL for eight years, first starting out as a Group Leader at Icahn 2 Charter School. Since the launch of Serve & Connect five years ago, Victor has been volunteering to help lead the program. He was drawn to it because of how officers are able to help the community through tennis. As a longtime member of the NYJTL team, Victor has always been characterized by his passion to serve.Thank you to Victor, Coaches Marilyn and Michael from the Cary Leeds Center, and the youth coordinator officers from the 42nd Precinct for engaging with our young people and building skillsets that will serve them for a lifetime!

Pershing Square Foundation Donates $1.0 Million to New York Junior Tennis & Learning

New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) is proud to announce a donation of $1 million from the Pershing Square Foundation. This gift will support the NYJTL Scholar Athlete Program, which will offer high quality tennis and educational support to provide a pathway for under-resourced NYC children to attend and graduate from college. After 50 years of successfully providing tennis and academic support for NYC youth, the Scholar Athlete Program will serve as its flagship program and beacon for the entire organization.

NYJTL is excited to continue its relationship with longtime donor and supporter Bill Ackman, who has previously contributed $1 million towards the capital campaign for what is now the Pershing Square Foundation Stadium at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning.

“Over the past 50 years, NYJTL has enabled countless children to develop their foundational tennis skills and provided critically important academic support,” says Pershing Square Foundation co-trustee Bill Ackman. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with NYJTL as it expands its programs to empower under-resourced children in New York to attend and graduate from college.”

“We are so grateful for the support of Bill Ackman and the Pershing Square Foundation,” says NYJTL President & CEO Udai Tambar. “This foundational contribution is pivotal in providing pathways to college for under-resourced youth and gives them the resources needed to excel in their personal and academic ambitions.”

Historically, NYJTL has provided a broad range of programming to under-resourced youth in all five NYC boroughs to get them enrolled in meaningful after-school, weekend and summer activities.

The Scholar Athlete Program will serve as the flagship NYJTL program that highlights the substantial benefits of providing in-depth services to underserved youth. It will launch during the NYJTL 50th Anniversary Gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom on May 4, 2022. The gala will be the culmination of 50 years of service, celebrating the legacy and future of the institution.

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.

NYJTL is looking forward to celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022!

Contact: Joe Ceriello
Chief Marketing & Development Officer
(917) 693-6672

The Racket

The Racket 🎾

NYJTL x Naomi Osaka

Last week, participants from the Community Tennis Program got the opportunity to meet Naomi Osaka, reigning champion at the US Open and the Australian Open, and the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles.

NYJTL partnered with Laureus Sports, an organization founded under the Patronage of Nelson Mandela, and their Sport for Good initiative that uses sport as a powerful and cost-effective tool to help children and young people overcome violence, discrimination, and disadvantage in their lives. This year, Osaka was awarded the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.

NYJTL kids had the opportunity to hit with Naomi on the newly refurbished Detective Keith L. Williams Park in Jamaica, Queens, where her journey as a tennis player began.  It was an inspiring day, and one that our kids will remember for a lifetime.

Community Tennis

This summer the CTP program served nearly 4,500 players at 23 sites, in all five NYC boroughs! The kids had the opportunity to work on their tennis skills, get exercise, and make some new friends. Congratulations to our CTP coaches, who coach from the heart!

ACES Afterschool

This school year, the ACES program ran summer programs at 28 school sites with full enrollment targets fulfilled. 23 schools received above average rating, validating NYJTL’s leadership role in providing excellent afterschool programming. Way to go ACES team!

The Cary Leeds Center

Nearly 1,500 campers spent their summer days keeping active on court, making new tennis friends, and perfecting their game! Campers worked on their technique in the development level and honed their tournament play in the high performance level.

Taste of Tennis

NYJTL partnered with our friends at Taste of Tennis to bring their food truck of paletitas, made by Chef Fanny Gerson, to the Cary Leeds Center on August 11. The kids loved their cold, sweet treats after a long day of tennis!

Getting Out On the Court

Dear Patrons,

We are following the updates, just like you and here is what we know.

NY State Update
Governor Andrew Cuomo includes, and calls out, tennis as a socially-distant and safe activity to resume.

While New York State has given the ok, we are bound by the guidelines of NYC and the NYC Parks Department. We are in discussion with them.

Next Steps
In the immediate: our bubble will come down, our building will remain closed to patrons, and all staff returning to work will have their temperature checked and be required to remain six feet apart and wear masks at all times within the facility.

What That Means for You
As soon as we receive approval, we will prepare to begin phase one of our reopening by making our court rentals available and offering one-on-one private lessons.

We will keep you updated and can’t wait for your safe and happy return!

Cary Leeds Center Temporary Closing

Dear Cary Leeds Center Families,


In view of Coronavirus health advisories from CDC and NY health officials, NYJTL will be closing the Cary Leeds Center at 8 pm tonight, Monday, March 16.  Your health and safety are our number one priority.

  • Our customer service center will remain open but staff will work remotely, so do not hesitate to call
  • We will make all efforts to reschedule missed programming as soon as we are able to reopen and will communicate with you as we learn more

We look forward to serving you in-person in the near future and until then please follow us on Facebook for tips on how to get the daily recommended amounts of exercise for your family at home during this time.

Yours sincerely,

George Guimaraes, NYJTL CEO and President
Liezel Huber, Cary Leeds Center Executive Director of Tennis