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Pupils told to shun violence at Flushing tennis center

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and a group of Far Rockaway students raised a racket together last week at an event during which youths were encouraged to play tennis and avoid getting involved with drugs, guns and gangs.

A bevy of Far Rockaway students learned about serving and other tennis moves last Thursday during the 12th-annual Say Yes to Tennis, No to Violence Day at the United States Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The students played the sport with the DA and received a motivational speech from former Mayor David Dinkins.

“We have a message: Say no to violence, become solid members of society and go to college,” Brown said. “My advice is to work hard and stay in school.”

Dinkins told the students to be respectful of one another.

“Whatever you do, don’t ever be a bully,” he said. “Don’t ever pick on someone smaller than you.”

He also told the students that playing tennis was a valuable experience, regardless of whether they were good.

“Many of you will ´╗┐become good enough to get college scholarships,” he said. “Many will not learn to play that well, but you will become better persons.”

The students received instruction from professional and amateur tennis players. The event was meant to steer children away from drugs, gangs and guns at an early age.

The program comes at the end of the DA’s yearlong Straight Talk About Risks initiative. As many as 30 assistant district attorneys have visited nine Far Rockaway schools as part of the program.

Most of the young tennis players said they enjoyed the day-long event. Several of them said they had played before.

“I’ve played for two months with my dad,” said PS 197’s Keon Dushaney, 10, who enjoyed learning how to bounce a tennis ball on his racket. “We got to learn all sorts of stuff.”

Brenda Coreas, 11, a student at PS 197, said she has played the game at home.

“We got to do drills and have fun,” she said of the DA’s event.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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