A 17-year-old high school junior, Leon attends Beacon High School in Manhattan and heads all the way up to the Bronx for his training. His brother, Cesar, is the NYJTL Mayor's Cup Tournament Manager—and a former Mayor's Cup competitor himself.
Leon can best be described as a fighter on the court. He's not the biggest player for his age, but he knows how to grind out wins. Everything about his game is advanced for his level. Not every player can be a giant on the court, but Leon has done everything he can to refine his skills, and the NYJTL and the Cary Leeds Center have a lot to do with that.
"It’s all his skill," Cesar says about his brother. "Because he’s shorter than everyone, he’s smaller than everyone. But he’s more skilled, more prepared."
Leon's ability to play at such a high level speaks to the competitiveness of the Mayor's Cup. As it is exclusive to New York, the event doesn't carry USTA standing. It does, however, have a partnership with UTR—Universal Tennis Rating.
In previous years, the tournament didn't provide much upside for some of the area's top players from a ranking perspective. That is no longer the case. These students now know that Mayor's Cup wins are going to help improve their UTR standing.
"With UTR ratings, the best players know that when they play this will count towards their score, which helps us get some of the better players," says Ceriello. "But it also really helped the players, which is also great."
The partnership also happens to help tournament organizers, like Cesar Leon and tournament director Pamela Glick, with the seeding of the event.
One might think that organizing a junior tournament is a relatively easy task, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
"I'll tell you something, I ran a Challenger [tournament] for around 15 years and nothing was harder than organizing this tournament," says Glick. "There are just so many entries."