I never used to care too much about Junior Tennis programs, had enough on my plate with adult players and building Social Tennis Networks for them. In San Diego the only exposure I ever got to Junior Tennis was at the Barnes Tennis Center with its numerous kids activities, especially their flagship program "After School Tennis". Those guys are doing a terrific job under Keri Blum, no doubt.
In the Los Angeles area I discovered a somewhat smaller program after its name came up a lot when I met some outstanding players and it turned out they all started their tennis careers there. This is the story of a group of tennis players in the San Fernando Valley / Los Angeles area. The year is 1974. They were about 10 kids age 10-15 who had two things in common:
Talent for the sport of tennis (and lots of it!)
They were all taught by the same coach: Paul Arroyo
Paul is a very successful tennis professional who coached top ranked satellite players, and 35 years ago he decided to coach those 10 youngsters for free. He was on the court with them day in and day out, hit hundreds of thousands of balls with them, took them to local and regional tournaments, and taught them how to win and how to be gracious role models in tennis and in life. His strategy worked out great, because all of those players started to win tournaments, became District and Section Champions, brought home trophy after trophy - and all of them received full tennis scholarships to Colleges all over the country.
After college they stuck to their sport and began teaching kids like they were taught before. They kept close contact with Paul Arroyo and in 1993 they formed the "Neighborhood Junior Tennis Program" (NJTP) with one goal in mind: Giving back to the community by teaching the sport of tennis to kids of all ages. Their Mission Statement is short but significant: "Improving our Community through Tennis".
Today, NJTP is flourishing with great programs for all levels juniors 6 days a week. Paul Arroyo still teaches, together with Steve and Barbara Tscherne, and Phil Siordia. Steve Tscherne happens to be the NJTP President, a remarkable individual with outstanding accomplishments. Not only did he receive the "Volunteer of the Year" Award from his employer UPS, but under his stewardship NJTP was awarded "2004 SCTA Member Organization of the Year" from the Southern California Tennis Association, the local USTA Section. And in 2007, Steve was given "The Presidential Service Award" for volunteerism from President George Bush.
On the NJTP web site http://www.njtp.us/ it states: "We have taught over 10,000 hours of tennis, used 12,000 tennis balls and introduced tennis to thousands of children. Our fundraisers included: 12 Bike and Run Marathons where we had run and biked over 13,000 miles, 5 Pro Showdowns, 30 Lightning and Sanctioned Tournaments. We have attended Davis Cup, WTA Women's Championships and Countrywide Tournaments. Our tennis kids have won City Championships, played at seven different high schools, played college tennis and have become tennis instructors. It's been some ride."
I find this simply remarkable and would encourage everyone in SoCal with kids interested in tennis to look them up. They teach at El Cariso Community Regional Park in Sylmar, and their schedule can be found on the web site http://www.njtp.us/.