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HJTEP history photo
1978 Group Photo

Two Harlem residents and tennis enthusiasts, Claude Cargill and Bill Brown, started HJTEP in 1972 at the local 369th Regiment Armory on 143rd Street. They understood that few kids in the Harlem community had exposure to the mostly white-dominated sport. They saw tennis as a means for betterment and a powerful character-builder that instills polite behavior and considerations of others. They also knew that African-American tennis greats Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson, who had played at the Armory, would make great role models for young players.

One of the first African-American policemen in New York, Cargill retired as a youth patrolman in 1962. He had organized and coached Police Athletic League basketball programs and had privately supported youngsters by buying tennis equipment, paying tournament entry fees, providing room and board and securing private coaches for players that demonstrated promising talent.

While the two founders gave tennis lessons and subsidized the fledgling program, former Knicks player Earl ("the Pearl") Monroe helped them attract outside funds. Monroe and Bill Holloway, another tennis instructor, teamed with Mutual of New York (MONY) Financial Services to sponsor an annual invitational tournament to benefit the program.

But Cargill's and Brown's ambitions for their young players went much further than the sport. In 1979, they launched a Homework Club to provide tutoring and academic counseling. Their early emphasis on education has only grown in recent years. See Learning Resource Center. The academic support we offer our students provides them access to higher education and professional mobility. Our founders would be gratified to know that 80% of HJTEP's program graduates go on to college.

Harlem is not only where I’ve met amazing people that I call family, but it’s where I learned how to believe in myself. Without Harlem I wouldn’t be half the player or person I am today. Coming to Harlem was the best decision I’ve ever made
— Olivia "Lulu" Jenkins


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