Beginning in 2015, local leaders from Brooklyn and the Bronx, smash the ball to the wall each year in the Johnny Ray Memorial Pro Wall Ball Tournament at MatchPoint NYC. Local personalities including politicians, business and media professionals, celebrities, and the public gather to witness the fast-paced competition, with the cross-town rivalry kindled by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams alongside Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. The goal is to engage inner-city and under-served youth in sports, and benefit the U.S. Wall Ball Association’s education, anti-violence and anti-obesity initiatives. The event, started in 2012, celebrates the life of Jonathan Ray, the late brother of the USWA’s CEO who inspired the creation of the association. Dmitry Druzhinsky welcomes the opportunity to support organizations that promote a healthy lifestyle to the fitness center.
As noted by the U.S. Wall Ball Association, beach-goers hitting an old tennis ball against the sides of wooden jetties back in the 1930s drove the New York Parks Department to install community handball courts throughout city parks. Today, wall ball is a popular sport enjoyed at athletic centers throughout the country. Dmitry Druzhinsky, co-founder of Brooklyn’s MatchPoint NYC, an upmarket health and fitness complex, recently welcomed area politicians for the Pro Wall Ball Tournament. This celebrated annual competition – commonly referred to as the “Battle of the Boroughs,” raises awareness for youth empowerment and public health. The winning team was awarded a trophy and the next year’s bragging honors.
“From the beginning, MatchPoint NYC was intended to be more than just a basic health center,” notes Dmitry Druzhinsky. “Our approach has been to make it into a community hub, a kind of athletic village where Brooklyn residents can socialize, compete and collaborate.” Events held at MatchPoint NYC include the 2015 Johnny Ray Memorial Pro Wall Ball Tournament where politicians from Brooklyn and the Bronx raised awareness for public health and youth empowerment; the Say No to Bullying! Fitness Day starring professional tennis player and Olympic silver medalist, Dinara Safina; and the New York Tennis Tournament which has been held each year at MatchPoint NYC since 2014. Wall Street leaders including Jon Bader, Bruce Richards, Rob Pohly, Jeremy Mindich, Dax Vlassis and Bill Ackman come together each year to compete in what New York Tennis Magazine referred to as “one of the top tennis charity events around, and… one of the biggest and most successful events put on by the R Baby Foundation.” The event has raised over $500,000 in two years at MatchPoint NYC, helping to improve infant medical care through a variety of hospital programs including telemedicine with pediatric experts, mobile simulation training program and symposiums.