Polly Sierer wants everyone to know how big of an impact tennis can have on your life.
And she has a great platform to broadcast it.
Since being elected Mayor of Newark in November of 2013, Sierer has devoted a large portion of her plans for the city to something very important to her: healthy living.
“I started taking tennis lessons when I was 9, living in Iowa City,” Sierer said. “It has always been a part of my life, so I saw it as a tremendous opportunity for the city of Newark.”
The city of Newark covers nine square miles. Within that are seven public parks with tennis courts, all of which play host to Sierer’s tennis program, “Tennis with the Mayor.”
“Tennis with the Mayor” takes place on 13 Sundays between April and October. The event is free to anyone who would like to attend and rotates through the various public parks throughout the city. A former tennis coach, Sierer facilitates the program and runs clinics and games on the courts.
“People love it,” Sierer said. “The city of Newark is really embracing tennis. The clinics are always full. Even when I go to play my 7 a.m. pick up games, the courts are packed. It makes me think we could be offering more. Maybe camps and weekend clinics.”
Tennis is just one component of the healthy initiative in Newark. Hiking and biking are two others. In July, exercise equipment was installed at three different stops along the 1.76-mile James F. Hall trail. The equipment was paid for through funds raised at Sierer’s “Mayor’s Masquerade Fun Run,” a Halloween-themed 5K.
Sierer plays on USTA League teams and is also involved in cup competition. Between her own involvement in the sport, teaching it to others and running a city, she somehow finds the time for everything.
“I think physical activity is important regardless of how busy you are,” Sierer said. “For me, it’s a great form of stress relief. It makes me more effective in work and it’s good for socializing, which everyone needs. There’s always time.”