New York Empire’s Tennis Tuesday content series features some of the game’s greats and New York’s finest tennis coaches, administrators, and fans. This week we chat with Michael Silverman, Director of Sports of City Parks Foundation and his experience at the New York Empire Pop-Up Tennis Clinic presented by Empire BlueCross BlueShield.
1. What does it mean to you being able to provide a youth clinic to players new to the game?
It’s always gratifying when we see a child pick up a tennis racquet for the first time and is immediately hooked on the sport. Our free instructional programs in public parks and pro clinics give children the opportunity to learn the game for free and provide a pathway to progress. Kids of all ages and abilities love to meet and watch pro players, so we try to offer these experiences when we can.
2. How does tennis and sports in general help the community?
New York City has over 700 public tennis courts, so tennis is a popular way for people of all ages here to stay active and healthy. In addition to helping keep communities active and healthy, tennis and sports in general promote and teach valuable life skills like goal setting, perseverance and good sportsmanship. Organized sports activities and instruction also create safe, structured environments for kids to thrive and make new friends.
3. What have been some of the best highlights in tennis at the City Parks this year?
Our year in tennis was anchored by some of our signature events like our Lacoste Junior Tennis Academy tryouts in May, a program which provides free tournament level training to advanced juniors and our citywide beginner program, which provides free instruction to over 6,000 kids and 38 parks around the five boroughs. We were also delighted to honor Gigi Fernandez at our annual Tennis Benefit at the US Open for her contributions to the sport and work to support community tennis.
4. What was the top highlight of the Empire season for you and the City Parks Foundation?
It was a thrill to have Gigi Fernandez visit a group of students from our beginner program at Flushing Meadows Park. each child received a new tennis racquet which hopefully will motivate them to keep playing tennis.
5. Winter season is fast approaching, where are some courts to practice and stay dry and warm?
Luckily some of our outdoor courts are transformed into indoor tennis bubbles allowing for year-round play. Two examples of facilities that transform are Sutton East Tennis Club in Manhattan or Cunningham Park in Queens and of course you also have the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows which has a terrific indoor tennis facility besides being home to the US Open.