PPA Profile: Chevoun Anthony

November 12, 2015

Regulars to the Prospect Park Tennis Center usually know Chevoun Anthony. They might not know that she moved to Flatlands, Brooklyn from Guyana in 1986. Nine years ago she began working at the Prospect Park Tennis Center, where she greeted guests and booked courts at the front desk. Her warm smile and attention to detail quickly earned her a position assisting with bookkeeping and customer service, and eventually to her current role as Front Desk Supervisor.

Though she lives in Flatlands with her husband and three kids, they still make time to visit Prospect Park for barbequing, ice skating and the occasional walk-a-thon. On Sundays, Chevoun likes to listen to the musicians at Drummers Grove, or picnic near the rustic arbors on the lake. Her family’s biggest champion of Prospect Park is her youngest son, who is an enthusiastic player in the Tennis Center’s Junior Development program.

Chevoun’s favorite part of working at the Tennis Center is the constant guest interactions. “I love meeting new people, seeing familiar faces and watching the kids play tennis,” she said, “I didn’t expect to stay at the Park for nine years, but it is such a great atmosphere with good people. Coming to work is a joy.”      

Prospect Park Alliance Featured on NYC TV

October 23, 2015

Join TV host Dave Evans on a tour of things to do in Prospect Park! $9.99 with Dave Evans, an NYC Life program that highlights the best free or low-cost activities in the city, devoted a recent episode to Prospect Park. This episode highlights Prospect Park Alliance activities at Lefferts Historic House, the Audubon Center, the Carousel, Lakeside, and the Tennis Center, and also features an interview with Alliance President Sue Donoghue. Although it aired last week, the episode can be watched online at the NYC Media website.

Visit our calendar to learn about upcoming programs in Prospect Park.


PPA Profiles: Brian Nortey

September 24, 2015

If you’ve come to the Prospect Park Tennis Center in the last five years then you’ve probably already met Brian Nortey. A Brooklyn native, he has a large extended family from Ghana, West Africa. He grew up in Flatbush, playing basketball at the Parade Ground as a kid. Like many Brooklynites, he has fond memories of Prospect Park.

He began playing tennis in one of the Alliance’s youth clinics where he found his passion for the sport. Brian soon began working part-time at the front desk, scheduling court time and handling guest inquiries. After learning the ropes of the front desk, he wanted to learn how the Tennis Center operated more broadly and began assisting the Junior Development Program. 

“I think my favorite thing about the job is working with the kids,” he said, “It reminds me of when I first started playing. I want to foster that love of the game in them, too.”

In addition to his role as the Assistant Coordinator for the Junior Development Program and Senior Front Desk Staff, he also helps run the Prospect Park Tennis Tournament, monitoring the leader board and working with the players. The annual tournament brings some of the best players in the borough together for several weeks of intense competition. 

When he’s not practicing his swing at the Center, or helping others improve theirs, Brian runs his photography and cinematography business. Over the last three years he’s used his visual talents to cover events and make music videos, among other things. “I love photography,” he said modestly, “but I still have a lot to learn.”

Stop by the Tennis Center in coming week to check out the final days of the tournament and meet Brian. 

PPA Profiles: Kingsley Selly

July 20, 2015

Kingsley Selly, a Senior Maintainer with the Prospect Park Tennis Center, moved to New York from Ghana just over ten years ago. He was brought to the United States by his father and has lived on Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn ever since. A regular jogger in Prospect Park, Selly joined the maintenance crew at the Prospect Park Tennis Center six years ago.

He enjoys the friendships he has made with the staff and regular tennis players. “I love the cooperation this job requires,” he said. “Everything goes much better when the maintenance crew and players work together.”

Court maintenance isn’t easy. Selly and his crew work through the night to get the Center ready for action every morning. They apply clay to each court, then pull a large broom over the surface and clear the lines. This surface is watered, dried, leveled and swept again. The entire process takes approximately six hours. The weather plays a major role in determining court treatment. Rain can present huge setbacks for the maintenance team. After each storm, the courts need to be dried and swept.

In addition to his responsibilities as Senior Maintainer, Selly also plays at the Tennis Center. He picked up the game about three years ago. “I figured, I worked here,” he said with a laugh. “I might as well learn how to play.”

c. Paul Martinka

PPA Profiles: Paul Curtin

April 13, 2015

Paul Curtin is Head Pro and Junior Development Director at the Prospect Park Tennis Center. A Florida native, he started working at the Tennis Center in 2003. “We have a community here that is very tennis friendly,” says Paul, “I love the diversity we see on the courts and the shared enthusiasm for the game.”

As Junior Development Director, Paul leads the Summer Youth Program, which is designed for youth ages 6 to 16 to learn the game and improve their serve, stroke and confidence on the court. Paul was a relative latecomer to tennis. He didn’t pick up a racquet until age 12 but then went on to become a very accomplished player. He loves working with the youth at the Tennis Center. He finds it rewarding to introduce children to tennis and watch their games develop. He also enjoys the challenge of teaching and finding new ways to express tennis techniques. “It takes patience and persistence,” Paul says, “but it’s great to see players mature.”

Registration for the Summer Youth Program is now open. Youth engage in drills and match play for both individualized tips and experience working in groups. Beginners will gain a thorough understanding of the game, as well as basic skills and strategies. Experienced players can hone their game with individualized instruction geared toward match play. Learn more about the Summer Youth Program and sign up today.

PPA Profiles: Joani Akpan

March 15, 2015

Joani Akpan has been a dedicated member of the Prospect Park Tennis Center community for over 15 years and is a strong advocate of youth tennis. She has loved the game since the age of ten.

A native of Seattle, Washington, she moved to New York in 1990 and currently lives in Old Mill Basin in South Brooklyn.  Approximately fifteen years ago she became more involved in the sport and started playing at the Prospect Park Tennis Center. A player and teacher, Joani is the Metro coordinator for Junior Team Tennis, a USTA league for youth ages 8-18. She also is the Director of Youth Tennis Leagues, another youth program that uses drills and match play to introduce strategy and game basics.

“Both of my children are in college now, so it’s great to work with the 300-plus kids in the Junior Team Tennis and Youth Tennis Leagues,” Joani said. 

For Joani, tennis is a family affair. Her husband Obong Akpan has been a longtime player at the Center, and their two children volunteered throughout high school for Special Aces, the Alliance’s skills and confidence-boosting program for developmentally disabled children. Joani enjoys the Center’s Har-Tru courts, as well as the comfortable, convenient and friendly atmosphere. When she’s not on the court, she loves to ride her bike and walk her dog around Prospect Park.

PPA Profiles: Nina Sporn

January 2, 2015

Nina Sporn has played tennis in Prospect Park since she was six years old. Her father, Sam Sporn, is a renowned tennis pro who encouraged her at an early age to get in the game. Her love of tennis has been a lifelong passion that she shares with her family to this day.

Nina enjoys the social atmosphere and diversity of players at the center. She brings her entire family for private lessons and match play, including her daughter, husband, mother and tennis pro father.

In addition to her commitment on the court, Nina and her daughter Molly volunteer with the Alliance’s Special Aces program, an innovative tennis program for children with developmental disabilities. Volunteers work closely with tennis pros and therapists to help participating children enjoy active play. Nina has been with the program since its inception seven years ago. She loves that the program provides structure, exercise and confidence for kids who don’t typically have these outlets in their daily lives.

“Some of the kids have been with us since the very beginning, and the progress I see in the players is very gratifying,” she said. 

PPA Profiles: Eric Johnsen

November 18, 2014

If you’re a regular at the Prospect Park Tennis Center then you’ve met Eric Johnsen, who works our front desk. Eric joined the staff of the Prospect Park Alliance over a decade ago, and has volunteered in the Park for more than 20 years. He’s devoted more than 4,200 hours of community service.

A Brooklyn native, Eric was born in Clinton Hill and grew up in Bay Ridge. He’s had a passion for Prospect Park since childhood. He explained, “My uncle took my brother and myself on the trolley to the zoo. That was back when they still had elephants.” He’s been in love with the place ever since.

Eric enjoys meeting new people at the Tennis Center, as well as helping visitors find their way when they’re lost. He still works with the Volunteer Corps, performing needed maintenance and landscaping duties. The bulk of his volunteer time is spent at the Special Events office where he works with sports teams to book the ballfields. On occasion, he’ll assist the fishing clinics at the Audubon Center, too.

In addition to being one of Prospect Park’s most committed advocates, Eric is also a talented baker. Say hello to him next time you’re at the Tennis Center.