Young Tennis Divas
In 1998 Leslie Allen received an invitation to bring a group of inner city youth to Australia to participate in the 1999 Australian Open OZ Kids Day. Allen soon realized that her kids needed more than just tennis training to be adequately prepared for such an opportunity.
To fill this need, Allen founded the Young Tennis Divas (YTD) program, an education and tennis program, with Pyramid Tennis Association, a 27-year-old Harlem, New York based non-profit organization.
The Young Tennis Divas program included mentoring, developing life skills and social etiquette, as well as extensive tennis training. Those that have been a part of the program have played on center court at the Australian Open, on the lawns of Forest Hills, been guests in the US Open's President's Box, attended performances at the Sydney Opera House, filmed an ESPN promo, and toured college campuses. They have even gone behind the scenes at pro tennis events and met one-on-one with sports agents, athletic trainers, journalists, broadcasters, and computer technicians.
The success of YTD has been chronicled in the media including: WNBC, MSG-TV, NY 1, USA Network, ESPN, Australia CH-9, wire service stories, Tennis Week, USA Today, USTA Magazine, Australian Tennis, and other international publications.
The young women in the program are well prepared for life on and off the court, because they know of the many career opportunities in tennis and are comfortable in almost any business or social setting. If the Roman philosopher, Seneca, was right and "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity," then these young ladies are indeed lucky in life.
The Young Tennis Divas program has recently been changed to the WIN 4 LIFE program. With increased funding, it is hoped that WIN 4LIFE will not merely achieve the success of the Young Tennis Divas team but that it will surpass those lofty levels. With Leslie Allen as the program's founder, leader, and chief example, that is an expectation, not just a goal. WIN 4 LIFE will operate on a year round assist and expand to other cities so more youth across the nation will benefit from this unique program.