Two Harlem residents and tennis enthusiasts, Claude Cargill and Bill Brown, started HJTEP in1972 at the local 369th Regiment Armory. They understood that few kids in the Harlem community had exposure to the mostly white-dominated and managed 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 talented players.
While the two founders gave tennis lessons and subsidized the fledgling program, former Knicks player Earl ("the Pearl") Monroe helped them attract outside funds. He 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. Over the years, HJTEP has attracted diverse supporters. See Grantors.
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 Education Initiatives. For many students, the academic support we offer leads to higher education and professional lives. The founders would be gratified to know that 60% of our program graduates go on to college.