'Global' Tennis Tournament Teaches Bed-Stuy Kids Backhands and Borders

By Paul DeBenedetto on July 2, 2013 9:36am 

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 The Kings County Tennis League held a "Davis Cup" tournament for its students on Saturday.
The Kings County Tennis League held a "David Cup" tournament for its students on Saturday.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A group of Bed-Stuy kids on Saturday boned up on their forehands, backhands and world capitals, thanks to a tennis tournament organized by a local kids club.

Dozens of children from the Kings County Tennis League gathered at Marcy Playground on DeKalb Avenue between Nostrand Avenue and Marcy Avenue on Saturday to participate in a miniature version of the Davis Cup, professional tennis' premier international tournament.

Kids from The Marcy, Tompkins, Sumner and Lafayette Gardens houses broke into teams representing Russia, Japan, France and Spain and hit the courts, learning facts about their respective countries along the way.

"We try to use tennis as a way to get kids out there - get the kids active, get the kids thinking," said league founder Michael McCasland. "Tennis is the instrument to teach life skills."

The Kings County Tennis League's mission is to "use tennis as an interest for positive mentorship and community building," McCasland said. Mentors work with the kids on the court, and off the court, educating them on geography and vocabulary, and encouraging community service.

Saturday's tournament was the first of the year for the kids. By the end of the day, Team France, which included kids from Tomkins and Sumner Houses, walked away victorious.

In the past, the league held one end-of-season tournament, made up entirely of solo matches. But Saturday's "Davis Cup" team tournament, the first mid-year tournament the league has ever organized, focused more on enjoyment and learning than on competition, McCasland said.

"I think it was easier on them, because it was less on the individual," McCasland said. "They were just having fun."

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