The Chase Return the Serve Fun Day event returns to Los Angeles for the fourth straight year on Friday, July 14, at StubHub Center in Carson.
First Break Academy, in partnership with JP Morgan Chase Bank and the USTA Foundation, will serve as the local L.A. host of the event, which is a celebration of Chase’s continued commitment to the USTA Foundation and to the National Junior Tennis & Learning Network. The USTA announced earlier this week that the USTA Foundation, in partnership with Chase, is contributing $100,000 total to 10 NJTL chapters nationwide.
First Break Academy based in Carson was one of the 10 NJTL programs awarded a $10,000 grant from the USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the USTA.
Former World No. 1 and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, a local Manhattan Beach resident and friend of First Break Academy, will be on hand for a short time to lend her support to the event on Friday.
“I love the game of tennis and anything that brings more kids into the game, and that’s what the Chase Return the Serve Fun Day event is all about,” Sharapova said. “I’m happy to be here, and show my support for First Break and their effort to give kids an opportunity to play.”
Orange County native and popular ATP pro Steve Johnson will join in the fun on Friday. Currently ranked No. 31 in the ATP World Tour rankings, Johnson said he’s happy to help out during the Chase Return the Serve Fun Day.
“First Break Academy has reached a lot of the local kids living right there in Carson, and every time I am there training it looks like everyone is having a great time,” Johnson said. “For a lot of current pros like me, we were once these kids. So to have a few pros come out to help during this event, and perhaps inspire a future generation of tennis players, is really a privilege.”
Joining fellow former Olympians Sharapova and Johnson on the courts Friday will be ATP stars Jared Donaldson (ATP ranked No. 67), and Southern California’s Ernesto Escobedo (No. 74), as well as 4X US Olympic medalist in Track & Field, Steve Lewis, and fellow track & field Olympians Danny Evertt and Kevin Young and many others, including Carson Mayor Pro Tem Lula Davis-Holmes, who is currently serving her third term on the Carson City Council.
Opening Ceremonies to kick off the day will take place at the Velo Sports Center at StubHub Center. First Break Academy co-founders Rick Buchta and Peggy Bott chose to highlight the Velo Center as a theme for the day as it played host to the cycling events at the L.A. Games in 1984, and could be used as a potential site if Los Angeles was to get the Games again in 2024.
The Chase Return the Serve Fun event will take place in 10 cities across the nation on Friday.
“Chase has been an outstanding supporter and partner of the USTA Foundation, and we can’t thank them enough for these generous grants,” said Dan Faber, Executive Director, USTA Foundation. “We are fortunate to have Chase continue to invest in our participants on and off the tennis court. Our partnership with Chase helps deserving youth to excel academically, through tennis, and ultimately through life.”
“It’s important that we equip our kids with the skills they need to succeed at a young age, most importantly through education and physical activity,” said Barbara Paddock, Managing Director for Sports and Entertainment at JPMorgan Chase. “As a sponsor of the US Open for 36 years, we’re proud to support the USTA Foundation and its NJTL programs’ mission to help today’s youth build confidence, camaraderie, and ultimately pursue their dreams.”
Friday’s schedule includes:
9 a.m.: Check-in at Velo Sports Center at StubHub Center
10 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies at Velo Sports Center
Note: National Anthem will be sung by LAUSD teacher Lisa Fulbright
10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Tennis games, music, dance, ace and hit for prizes.