People for Palmer Park Tennis Named National CTA of the Year
Photo courtesy of People for Palmer Park
The People for Palmer Park Tennis was recently named the USTA Community Tennis Association (CTA) of the Year. Though the CTA, located in Detroit, Mich., is a fairly new organization, the dedication and hard work from all involved are unmatched.
Leonora King has been a key player in the CTA’s success over the years, but King will say that tennis was not always her first love. After burning out on contact sports, King turned to tennis at the age of 15 as a way to slow herself down. King remembers playing in Palmer Park during her early years, creating an early attachment for the park.
King went on to play college tennis as a walk-on at Western Michigan University and never stopped coming back to her home base of Palmer Park. So, when the city announced that they would be closing not only Palmer Park but many other parks throughout Detroit, King knew something needed to be done. Banding together with other concerned tennis players, King and her friends began a protest. King realized she could take it one step further and decided to create a non-profit organization to cement the need for the park. People for Palmer Park was born.
Now on the board of the CTA, King continues to help countless tennis players realize their true potential through state-of-the-art teaching. The Palmer Park Tennis Academy has been steadily growing since the park was saved and introduced junior players from every background to tennis. While the Academy only began with 30 players, it now boasts almost 200 children learning the game.
Not only has King brought tennis back to Palmer Park, she also had a hand in creating programs such as yoga and ta chi for all to enjoy.
It is King’s hope that the CTA she and other enthusiastic tennis players labored to construct will become a powerhouse for junior players.
“I really want this to be a program that teaches the basic fundamentals of the sport and grow it where we can have some high-level juniors coming out of there,” said King. “I hope to expose tennis to the community at large to get more kids in Detroit playing.”
King says that being named CTA of the Year at a national level was a complete shock but a much-appreciated recognition of what she and her team have been working so hard to achieve over the years.
“I am overwhelmed by it because we are basically kind of new and it is just fantastic, and I am honored, you have no idea,” said King.
King has no plans of slowing down, though. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
In years to come, King hopes to build a facility in the park that not only encourages children to keep playing tennis but will also act as a sanctuary where they are able to receive tutoring and educational instruction.
“I have a lot of hope for our kids in this city, and this has been a passion that I didn’t know I had that came from teaching, coaching and working with kids,” said King. “I feel like they have done a lot more for me than I ever thought.”
The future is certainly bright for this CTA.
“It’s been a mission of great love and something that has changed my life.”