Harlem Junior Tennis & Education to Celebrate Children, Honor Supporters

May 1, 2023

NEW YORK, NY – Luminaries from the world of tennis, celebrity tennis fans, philanthropists and supporters will celebrate the impactful work the Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program (HJTEP) does helping and inspiring youngsters through tennis and education at the HJTEP Annual Gala on May 22nd at the Ziegfield Ballroom in New York City. Tickets for the gala are available at or [email protected]

In addition to celebrating the success of the nearly 1,000 youngsters who benefit from the HJTEP annually, the event will also honor a pair of its most ardent supporters. It will present the Shining Star Award to Rennae Stubbs, a former number one ranked doubles players and 6-time Grand Slam champion; and the Chairman’s Award renamed this year as the James R. Kelly III Chairman’s Award to James R. Kelly III, the former HJTEP Chairman of the Board who retired last year after serving in this role for 16-years.

“The success of the HJTEP for the past 50-years would not have been possible without the selfless commitment from scores of people like Rennae and Jim who have supported our mission and helped us grow,” said Katrina Adams, HJTEP Executive Director. “We are looking forward to this opportunity to thank our friends and supporters and introduce them to many of the youngsters that are directly benefitting from our programs.”

Emceed by WCBS-TV news anchor Maurice DuBois, the star-studded gala will be attended by a host of celebrity tennis fans and HJTEP supporters. The Honorary Chair is two-time Grand Slam Singles Champion and International Tennis Hall of Famer, Stan Smith. The Co-Chairs are Jeanine D. Liburd, Chief Social Impact and Communications Officer for BET and Vladimir Makatsaria, Company Group Chairman Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon.

The Shining Star Award recognizes an individual who has shone their light on HJTEP, believes in its mission and has never hesitated to support the organization. Previous recipients include James Blake, Jim Courier, David Dinkins, Billie Jean King, Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe, Martina Navratilova, Chanda Rubin, and Monica Seles.

During her 18-year career on the WTA Tour and the past decade as a broadcaster Ms. Stubbs has always been there to support HJTEP and its kids. On the court she is the all-time winningest Australian woman capturing 60 titles from 1992-2010 including four Grand Slam double titles, two Grand Slam mixed doubles crowns and a pair of Olympic medals. She is also the longest serving member of the Australian Fed Cup team compiling a 28-17 record in 17 years, and she represented her homeland in four consecutive Olympic Games between 1996 and 2008.

At the conclusion of her playing career, the affable Aussie easily transition to the broadcast booth as a commentator for Tennis Channel, ESPN, Channel Seven Australia, and others. She also co-hosts the podcast The Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast with Caitlin Thompson and hosts the Amazon Original The Power Hour.

The James R. Kelly III Chairman’s Award (formerly the Chairman’s Award) is presented to a visible and vocal supporter of the HJTEP who has been both a leader in supporting youth and who promotes the importance of education and sport. Previous recipients include Maurice Adams, Andre Benjamin, Christopher Hojlo, Patrick McEnroe, Deborah Slaner Larkin, Mario Scorcia and David Tyree.

After graduating from West Virginia State University, the native of Washington, D.C. served in the U.S. Army Special Forces, in Vietnam for which he was highly decorated. Upon his discharge from the service, he went on to an 18-year banking career, rising to the level of Executive Vice President of the nation’s fifth largest bank. In 1985, he formed Kellee Communications Group Inc., where he is still the Chairman and CEO.

He joined the HJTEP board of directors in 1992 and served as the chairman from 2006-2022. Additionally, he served as chairman of the American Public Communications Council for 16 years and on the boards of directors for the American Diabetes Association, The National Urban League, The American Cancer Society, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. He has two children (Khrys and Rafae), two grandchildren (Mecca and Rahana), and one great grandson (Rahsaan).

Another highlight of the gala will be the live auction which last year helped the event raise nearly $1 million. Some of the unique auction items are: two US Open tickets with a behind the scenes ESPN tour with Rennae Stubbs; two French Open quarterfinals tickets with round-trip business class transportation; two box seats to the 2024 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA; a hit sessions with The Bryan Brothers; and a pair of autographed Stan Smith Adidas tennis shoes – a must-have collectible for any tennis fan.

About HJTEP The Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program develops champions in tennis, education, and wellness. HJTEP continues to bring tennis to youth from high-risk, low-income inner-city neighborhoods while offering opportunities for self-development, emphasizing education and a positive code of behavior. Tennis teaches kids essential life skills, sportsmanship, self-discipline, social and emotional competence and how to lead healthier lives. HJTEP insists on academic achievement, and the average GPA of participants is 3.1. The not-for-profit organization opens a new door for many inner-city boys and girls, ages 6-18, to learn the game of tennis. And the numbers speak to its success with a 95% high school graduation rate, 25% earning a tennis scholarship, and a 3.1 GPA, and more than 80% of program graduates attending college.

Partnering with local schools and community centers, it serves students during the school year and in its summer program. What they experience on the courts, and in its education programs, develops the whole child—in sports, school, and life. Tennis teaches kids essential life skills, sportsmanship, self-discipline, social and emotional competence and how to fight obesity and lead healthier lives. In their weekly sessions, participants also learn to improve communication skills and raise their fitness levels. For more information visit