By Jonathan Sperling
More than 600 students from Far Rockaway public schools appeared at court on Friday — the tennis court, that is.
The students were invited to USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing as part of the 22nd annual “Say Yes to Tennis - No to Violence” Day hosted by the Queens District Attorney’s office. This year’s iteration of the event, which sees local leaders talk with borough children about the risks of guns, drugs and gangs was the first to be held after the passing of DA Richard Brown in May.
“More than 20 years ago, under the guidance of the late District Attorney Richard A. Brown, a small idea ballooned into a great program to promote positive youth development for youngsters in the furthest regions of Queens County,” Ryan said in a statement. “The goal was from the beginning to introduce teens and pre-teens to tennis — a game that incorporates important life lessons, such as fair play and self control.”
The outing at the USTA National Tennis Center wraps up the DA office’s year-long STAR Track anti-violence program, which stands for Straight Talk About Risks. Assistant district attorneys, other members of the District Attorney’s Office, members of the New York City Corporation Counsel’s Office and the Queens Legal Aid Society visited Public Schools 43, 104, 106, 197 and 333, as well as Queens High School for Information Research and Technology, Village Academy and Academy of Medical Technology Middle School and High School throughout the school year to talk with students.
The program’s curriculum is designed to drive down the crime rate and build up students’ self-esteem, confidence and quality of life.
Kids were able to participate in on-court activities with National Tennis Center pros. The children also received t-shirts to commemorate the event, along with introductory tennis instruction. The USTA National Tennis Center is the nation’s largest public tennis facility and the home of the U.S. Open.
Ryan added “that these hundreds of youths are among the more than 10,000 youngsters who have participated in STAR Track over the last two decades. It is my hope that each and every child has benefited from this experience in a positive and productive way and that the lessons learned will help them to have bright and successful futures.”