Tennis & Community Changes Lives: Michael Figueroa

Michael Figueroa has participated in the Community Tennis Program (CTP) since he was 8 years old. His journey began when he joined the ACES Afterschool Program in the 3rd grade. Tennis and the community it has built for him has been a crucial part of his life ever since.  

Michael became a tennis coach for NYJTL in April of 2020. To him, working never felt like a job because of his deep love for the sport. Michael often would show up early on non-school days to get some practice before coaching and playing.  

Michael’s love for tennis sent ripples through his family, as both his younger brothers were inspired to give it a try. Now, he and his brothers work hard to improve their game, with his middle brother often serving as his hitting partner.    

As he got older, he grew closer to the tennis community and gained lots of experience and knowledge, making many friends and mentors along the way. Eventually he became one of the older kids among the kids at the tennis site, Bronx International. As one of the oldest, he began helping the coaches and guiding the newer and younger players on how to develop the skills needed to play.   

“After being in CTP for almost a decade, I took away 2 major lessons,” says Michael. “The first one is that confidence is key both on and off the court.”  

As a child, he was shy and found it difficult to stand up for himself. Playing tennis helped immensely in his personal growth, and eventually this new confidence opened many doors personally and professionally. 

“The second major lesson I learned is the importance of teamwork,” Michael continues. “I was able to become my best self because of the people around me.” Tennis was always more than a sport; it built a community for Michael. 

Today, Michael is a graduate of the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, and an active-duty Marine. He encourages young children to pursue tennis saying, “You should join CTP because you never know how much it would mean to you and how many memories you will have because you decided to be part of this wonderful community. You will make new friends, new coaches, new rivals, and have an awesome time.”