Steffi Graf Promotes Tennis in Harlem

via Jeff Mays/DNAinfo

Steffi Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam singles titles during her career, led a tennis clinic at the Harlem Tennis Center on 143rd Street. (DNAinfo/Jeff Mays)

HARLEM—When Jaycen Murphy began playing tennis at the courts of Howard Bennett Playground on 135th Street nine years ago the place was in bad shape.

“The courts were cracked up. Weeds were coming out,” said Murphy, 16, a junior at Winston Prep who is considered the top player at the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program.

But youngsters just getting involved in tennis won’t have to worry about the beat up courts at Howard Bennett anymore. To celebrate the repaving of the court by the Department of Parks and Recreation, tennis legend Steffi Graf, 42, gave a clinic for young people at the Harlem Tennis Center on 143rd Street.

Graf, a spokesperson for the United States Tennis Association’s QuickStart program, hit balls with kids on a smaller court with an oversized ball. With a court length equal to the width of a regulation tennis court and smaller racquets, the program is part of an effort to scale down tennis so that it is not so intimidating to kids just learning the game.

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