“Ashe’68 Documentary Project” now open at Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning

by PDM STAFF

Virtual Reality Experience | Photo via New York Junior Tennis & Learning

NEW YORK – “Ashe ’68 Documentary Project,” a unique multi-component project that celebrates the life and legacy of New York Junior Tennis & Learning’s (NYJTL) founder Arthur Ashe, is now open for viewing at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning. Created and produced by director and cinematographer Rex Miller, the project uniquely commemorates Ashe’s historic 1968 US Open championship victory, which made him the first Black man to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament and the first American to become the US Open Men’s Champion.

“We are so excited to bring the legacy of our visionary founder and illustrious tennis star Arthur Ashe to the thousands of families and children we serve in all five boroughs,” says NYJTL President & CEO Udai Tambar. “Our investment in the south Bronx provides the community with the opportunity to experience this one-of-a-kind exhibition.”

This immersive project features several components that provide viewers with an intimate showing of Arthur Ashe’s evolution from a tennis legend to an international human rights advocate. One of these features is the “Ashe ’68 VR Experience”.

Arthur Ashe at the 1975 World Tennis Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam | Source: National Archief Fotocollectie Anefo (Rob Bogaerts via Wikimedia Commons

Previously previewed at the 2018 US Open, this virtual reality experience brings viewers at the Cary Leeds Center to Ashe’s historic 1968 win, combining 360° video recreations, archival material, and never-before-seen stop motion animation to tell his story. The Center said viewers could be wholly immersed in this compelling viewing — from Ashe’s walk through the halls of West Side Tennis Club to his historic pre-match press conference — all presented from the Tennis Channel Broadcast Center at the Cary Leeds Center.

Along with the virtual reality experience, the Center also said guests could enjoy viewing the Photo Exhibit on the lower outdoor terrace of the Cary Leeds Center. It features a series of photographs by John Zimmerman documenting Ashe’s historic victory. Launched in 2018 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and later exhibited at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, it features sixteen Vibrachrome panels that uniquely capture never before seen images of Ashe’s life both on and off the court.

As part of NYJTL’s partnership with CNN Films and Picture Motion, an exclusive private screening of their original documentary Citizen Ashe was seen by students from four NYJTL Bronx after-school programs. The ACES Afterschool students from the local south Bronx community and poorest Congressional district in the nation gathered in the state-of-the-art Cary Leeds Center to discuss Ashe’s dedication to social justice and tennis with the film’s creator Rex Miller.

“The greatest lesson youth can learn from Arthur’s life is that anyone can make a difference,” says the brother of Arthur Ashe, Johnnie Ashe. “What made him great was his ability to lead with strength, integrity, and purpose, and that was his gift to mankind.”

Students participating in NYJTL after-school program | Photo via NYJTL

NYJTL welcomes the community to view the “Ashe ’68 Document Project Project” free of charge at the Cary Leeds Center all summer, culminating at the 2022 NYJTL Bronx Open, the women’s $60,000 USTA Pro-Circuit Tournament during the week leading into the US Open Qualifying tournament from August 15-21, 2022.

NYJTL provides after-school programming in approximately 30 schools and community tennis programming at several sites throughout New York City in the summer and at additional sites that operate during the school year. In addition, NYJTL designed, funded (with NYC), built, and operates the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, which provides free and commercial tennis programming year-round, life skills, character development, and healthy living lessons. All NYJTL community tennis and after-school programs are offered at no cost to its participants.

–With Jay Domingo/PDM

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