From Arthur Ashe to the Williams sisters, public courts have nurtured and built US Open champions. The USTA, in partnership with Chase and our National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network, will build upon its shared mission to strengthen communities through tennis and art by restoring five public-court facilities in five markets.
Here is a look at the NJTL First Serve Miami, where artistic duo Kiik Create will make the public courts at Norman Jean Reach Park in Miami their canvas on April 7 and 8.
First Serve Miami, a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter, was founded in 1974 and, since then, has been committed to developing, organizing and conducting life skills and academic development programs through tennis to underserved youth in the Miami-Dade area.
Based out of the public courts at the Norman Jean Reach Park in Miami, First Serve Miami serves boys and girls from all races, ages and ethnic backgrounds, providing support for more than 1,000 children a year through their Youth Skills Development Programs. Their services involve both in-school and after-school programming, bringing the excitement of tennis in tandem with tools to help children excel both on the tennis court and in the classroom.
First Serve Miami offers a variety of programs for children, which include an after-school daily 10-and-under tennis component, recreational tennis for older youth, life skills curriculum and tournament play. It also has an in-school program that collaborates with multiple schools in Miami to bring tennis into the schools locally.
One of its most successful programs, the Adopt a Player initiative, was launched in 2008 and has helped give children the gift of a college education by leveraging their tennis game with the goal of using their talent and academics to attend college. To date, 47 graduating high school seniors have received either full or partial scholarships to attend higher institutions of learning, including Boston College, Princeton, Vanderbilt and many more.
As of 2017, First Serve Miami became a USTA-accredited NJTL, and it has been able to increase its programming and outreach.
“First Serve Miami became a National Junior Tennis and Learning chapter last year,” said Leslie Gonzalez, Executive Director, First Serve Miami. “Now we have the backing of USTA to make our program what we’ve always wanted it to be – tennis and learning.”
On April 7 and 8, First Serve Miami will be given the gift of art from the USTA in conjunction with Chase, when one of their public courts will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind piece by the artistic pair Kiik Create.
"We're so excited about the artwork that's coming to Norman and Jean Reach Park," said Gonzalez. "We are hoping that with this artwork, the children and parents from the community will come and be inspired by the art, and with that, will stay for tennis, as well."
First Serve Miami – Live!
Watch LIVE on Facebook, April 7 and 8, as we livestream the court transformation from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Facebook.