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Rising American Tennis Star Taylor Townsend Leads 12th Annual First Niagara Free Lesson with New Haven Students
NEW HAVEN, Conn., May 13, 2013 – American teenager Taylor Townsend, who in 2012 became the first American female since 1982 to finish the year ranked No. 1 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior rankings led, along with USTA New England, more than 300 New Haven youth in the 12th annual First Niagara Free Lesson, which introduces kids to the game of tennis and emphasizes the importance of fitness in their lives through an introductory tennis clinic.
Townsend, who won the Australian Open Junior Singles title and Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open Junior Doubles titles in 2012, spoke to participants from 10 New Haven Public Schools who are part of seven New Haven-based mentoring organizations including Boost!/United Way, Boys & Girls Club, Squash Haven, Big Brothers Big Sisters, LEAP, Dwight Hall and New Haven Youth Tennis & Education about the mentors in her own life and how physical activity is vital for positive development in youth.
It was a fitting message as this year’s event also brought together the New Haven Open and The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, a statewide public-private alliance that works to build a strong, healthy future workforce through leadership in mentoring and prevention of violence, underage drinking, alcohol and drug abuse. First Niagara, the tournament’s lead sponsor, facilitated the relationship as its Foundation is a significant supporter of The Partnership. Through its Mentoring Matters program, First Niagara provides funding and employee volunteer support to several organized mentoring initiatives.
Governor of the State of Connecticut Dannel P. Malloy was on hand to affirm the importance of mentoring and physical activity in children’s lives and stated, “I am excited to help launch this relationship between the New Haven Open and The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, and thank these organizations and First Niagara for their continued support of programs that are making a positive difference in the lives of young people across Connecticut. Mentors play an important role in strengthening the ability of parents, communities and schools to ensure the positive development of our kids so that they thrive and succeed in school and their careers. By working together to promote healthy and active lifestyles among Connecticut’s children and families, we can expect students better prepared to focus and learn, improved academic achievement and a healthier workforce.”
“First Niagara is proud to support today’s Free Lesson, which allows New Haven youth to learn about the game of tennis while also hearing from positive role models about the importance of mentoring, “said James S. Bzdyra, First Niagara Market Executive and SVP, Commercial Banking, New England Region. “By collaborating with organizations like the New Haven Open and The Governor’s Prevention Partnership, we can give Connecticut students the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.”
“Since its inception, the New Haven Open has been dedicated to leveraging professional tennis to impact
our community in a healthy, positive and active way, especially among youth,” said Mayor of New Haven, John DeStefano, Jr. “This year, the First Niagara Free Lesson’s focus on tennis and mentoring is a great way to shine a light on New Haven’s BOOST! program, which is all about supporting and engaging students beyond academics. BOOST!, mentoring programs and physical activity accomplish just that.”
All of today’s participants were given tickets to come back to the 2013 New Haven Open.
This year, fans will be closer to the action than ever before, as the New Haven Open consolidates all seating into the Box Ring of the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale. This enhanced proximity to the players and on-court action as well as increased in-stadium entertainment is available starting at just $24. Tickets for the 2013 tournament are on sale now, so fans will want to buy early to secure their seats. For more information on volunteers and to secure tickets to the 2013 tournament, log on to www.newhavenopen.com or call the New Haven Open Box Office at 855-464-8366. Also, make sure to join the New Haven Open on Facebook & Twitter for tournament updates, contests and more.
About New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara
New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara has always been much more than a tennis tournament; it is a leading example of leveraging a large-scale international sporting event to generate $26 million in regional economic impact and to build community pride, spirit and engagement, especially among youth. The 2012 tournament featured four of the top 10 players including Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Sara Errani and 2012 Champion Petra Kvitova. The women’s-only WTA event is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series and will be held August 16-24, 2013 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale. The New Haven Open is prominently featured domestically on ESPN2 and Tennis Channel and also broadcast around the world. For more information about the tournament and tickets, visit www.newhavenopen.com or call 1-855-464-8366.
About First Niagara
First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 430 branches, approximately $37 billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visitwww.firstniagara.com.
About Emirates Airline US Open Series
Now in its 10th season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hardcourt tennis, linking nine summer tournaments to the US Open. Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova won the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history – $2.4 million – for winning the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series titles. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Series, winning $2.2 million – the largest purse in women’s sports history – and equaled that amount in 2010, winning the US Open and finishing the Emirates Airline US Open Series in second place.