CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- On a warm and sunny Friday afternoon, members of the Katonah-Lewisboro community gathered for the dedication of several tennis courts at the John Jay campus.
The grand opening was marked with a ribbon cutting and speeches from several people who helped bring the project to fruition.
Robert Labriola, a district parent who coaches John Jay High School's boys varsity tennis team, told Daily Voice about $550,000 was raised for the project; donations included multiple individuals, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the John Jay Sports Boosters Club.
The courts, which opened about a month ago for students, have received positive feedback from players, Labriola noted.
“They're very excited.”
The entire effort from fundraising to the dedication took nearly three years according to Labriola.
The reason for bringing courts to John Jay, Labriola explained, were because most schools in the area have them already; there are 61 schools in the area's section, he added.
Previously, John Jay tennis players had to travel across town to Fox Valley Park, which Labriola said resulted in having to split up the teams. Fox Valley also served as the location for "home" tennis matches. Having courts on campus means there is an ease of access, Labriola noted, as players can now walk to play and change near by. Labriola also hopes for John Jay to host a tournament.
The courts will be used by high school and middle school physical education students, Labriola said. Students in the district's elementary schools may start out playing tennis at their gyms, Labriola added, although they could be brought to the John Jay campus when as well.
The courts will be open to the public when they are not being used for school programming, Labriola said.
Labriola congratulated many community members for their support during remarks at the dedication ceremony.
Jenny Schnitzer, the new executive director for the USTA Eastern Section, discussed a free program that her organization will offer to the district, which involves training physical education teachers and providing free rackets.
“We at Eastern have so much to offer from our schools program.”
Schnitzer added that more support can be offered.
Marianne Flayhan, former president of The John Jay Boosters Club, recalled the various roles that the club had in helping to bring athletic amenities to the campus, including the creation of the nearby turf field, along with the field space across the street.
Christian McCarthy, the district's athletic director, highlighted the courts project as an example of the community coming together with a vision.
Katonah-Lewisboro Superintendent Andrew Selesnick offered thanks for the courts and praised Labriola for his work to make them possible.
“Public schools are built on the concept of partnership," Selesnick said. "We wouldn't exist were it not for partnerships with community, with parents, with our students and with the staff who work in the buildings, and this is just the very best example I can think of, of a partnership.”