Bergen County renames tennis courts to honor former Leonia player, coach killed on 9/11

By Dan Ivers New Jersey Local News

The Andrew Kim Tennis Court - Gallery by Dan Ivers/

The Andrew Kim Tennis Court – Gallery by Dan Ivers/

LEONIA — A former tennis player and coach who was killed during the September 11 terrorist attacks was honored with a court dedicated in his honor Saturday morning.

Andrew Kim was just 26 when a plane crashed into the World Trade Center, where he worked with a mutual fund firm on the 93rd floor.

“He made the the supreme, ultimate sacrifice on that terrible day,” said Paul Lee, an on-air host on Korean Radio Broadcasting who spoke at Saturday’s event.

An avid tennis player throughout his youth, he had played for Leonia High School and later returned as a junior varsity coach – spending hours upon hours at the courts on the north end of Overpeck County Park.

He was also an expert pianist and musician who often traveled to Korean churches around the country to perform, and was a graduate of Columbia University.

“His future was very promising,” said Bishop Rev. Dr. Haejong Kim, a United Methodist Church minister in Bergen County.

Since his death, his parents have formed a memorial foundation in his name, and began to lobby county officials to dedicate the Overpeck courts in his honor.

County Executive Kathleen Donovan recalled receiving a call from his father, Paul Kim, she she was working as county clerk. She informed him that she had little power to push a dedication at that point, but promised she would see to it should she ever rise to the county’s top post.

“I became county executive, Mr. Kim. We kept our word,” she said during a brief speech Saturday. “Generations of people to come will know Andrew Kim and will know his name every time they come to play here.”

County dignitaries were joined by local Korean leaders and dozens of friends and relatives of the Kim family. A dedication ceremony was closed with a ribbon-cutting in front of the courts, which were recently repaved and painted to mark the occasion.

An annual tournament in Kim’s name is also in the works, officials said.

For Paul Kim, the day was about his son’s passion for tennis and for life, which he hoped would inspire the area’s youth. He spoke of his respect for the game, with its demand for concentrated focus and precise footwork.

“I hope that Andrew’s memory can give kid’s strength, not just physical strength. To let them go out and be happy, go out and make peace in the world,” he said.

Many speakers also acknowledged the thousands of others who lost their lives on 9/11, reminding listeners that they too had not been forgotten.

“Osama bin Laden is dead, but the memories of all the victims, the memories of Andrew, live on,” said Lee.

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