2018-08-22 / Front Page

USTA Transforms Highland Park Tennis Courts As Part Of “Art Courts” Initiative

The USTA and NYC Parks officially unveiled on August 18 the fifth and final set of Art Courts at the Highland Park Tennis Courts in Brooklyn. The courts were refurbished and then finished with artwork by New York-based artists Sandro “Sen2” Figueroa and James “SEXER” Rodriguez. Saturday’s event featured more than 50 kids from the Highland Park Tennis Association, a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter.

The courts chosen to be refurbished in Highland Park were a block of eight 36-foot courts, which are designed for youth to learn and play the game. The courts are properly sized for children, ensuring a more fruitful playing experience, rather than full-sized courts where they may struggle.

Art Courts is an extension of the USTA and Chase’s Return the Serve program, which supports the USTA Foundation and its youth tennis and education programs across the country through the NJTL network. Through Return the Serve, Chase has donated over $500,000 to local NJTL chapters.

Highland Park Tennis Association (HPTA) is an all-volunteer organization founded in October 2004. The overall goal of the HPTA is to create and foster a safe, friendly environment in Highland Park where tennis can be enjoyed and flourish for generations to come. Their mission is to utilize tennis as a vehicle to promote and instill the importance of education, social responsibility, healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, fair competition, respect, high self-esteem and strong character in the participants of their Junior Tennis Program, while providing an alternative source of recreation. With strategic programming and dedication, HPTA hopes to prepare the participants of their program to conquer the challenges they may face in life.

The USTA, in partnership with NYC Parks, commissioned Figueroa and Rodriguez to each turn the Highland Park Tennis Courts into his canvas.
“Sen2,” whose original name is Sandro Figueroa Garcia, is a Puerto Rican self-taught graffiti writer and artist. Since 2001, his artwork has been on display around the globe, exhibiting in numerous solo and group shows in America and Europe.

James “SEXER” Rodriguez, has managed to make art his life’s work. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the South Bronx, he began dabbling in cartoons as a youngster, but by the age of 10 he was exhibiting his work at Gimbel’s Department Store in Herald Square.

Tennis enthusiasts and followers can take part in the excitement of the Art Courts by utilizing the hashtag #USOpenArtCourtsxChase across social media channels. Get to know the artists on Instagram: @sen2figueroa and @sexer1.

In total, artists in five markets across the country have been given free rein to reimagine what a tennis court can look like, and in the process restore the courts at each of the public tennis facilities. In each market, which in addition to New York, has included Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Cincinnati, a tennis facility has been identified as needing court refurbishments and is targeted to benefit the city’s local NJTL chapter. The NJTL network includes more than 350 tennis and education chapters nationwide, supported by the USTA Foundation through grants, scholarships, and technical assistance. These chapters reach more than 200,000 under-resourced youth on an annual basis.

“The Art Courts initiative has enabled us to bring playable works of art to five communities throughout the country, and provide new opportunities to enjoy the greatest game in the world,” said Katrina Adams, USTA chair of the board and president. “With the help of our longtime partner, Chase, and these two amazing artists, children will be able to have their first tennis experience on courts as vibrant and colorful as the city of New York City, the home of the US Open.”

“The next generation of great athletes develop their skills in our public parks. Now, thanks to the USTA, the kids of Brooklyn have fully refurbished tennis courts to practice on, with fun artwork that adds a splash of color to this neighborhood,” said NYC Parks Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.

“I’m excited to continue my partnership with the US Open for a second year,” says Sen2, who brought his eclectic, pop-art graffiti style to the 2017 onsite selfie zone last year. “Having the opportunity to share my passion for art and painting with the youth of Brooklyn as well as to give back to the community makes the Art Courts very unique because it’s a true lifestyle and cultural experience.”

“We’re proud of our continued support of the USTA Foundation’s work to bring tennis to underserved communities,” said Frank Nakano, head of sports and entertainment for JPMorgan Chase. “Art Courts uniquely brings together two art forms while offering quality public facilities for kids, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results.”

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