It was just a few days ago that two stars had perhaps their best career performances across the Atlantic, when women's semifinalist Lucie Safarova and boys junior champ Noah Rubin showed their stuff at Wimbledon. And all spring, the tennis world took notice as Jamie Loeb slammed her way to National College Player of the Year honors in a brilliant freshman season at the University of North Carolina. Now these three up and coming standouts have another showcase, as they will join current world number one and seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Novak Djokovic, Hall of Famer John McEnroe, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and actor Edward Norton on Thursday, Aug. 21 for a gala evening of tennis and fun to benefit the Johnny Mac Tennis Project.
The benefit night will take place at Sportime Stadium on Randall's Island. Rubin and Loeb are two of the standout students who have trained at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy since its creation in 2010 at its flagship location at Sportime Randall’s Island.
Loeb will take on Safarova, currently ranked 17th on the WTA Tour at 6:30 p.m., followed by Djokovic, the reigning Wimbledon men's singles champion, against Rubin at 7:30 p.m.
“I want to personally thank Novak for donating his time in support of my foundation, Johnny Mac Tennis Project,” said McEnroe. “This a tremendous opportunity for two of our brightest JMTA stars to show their skills against the best in tennis. All of us at JMTA are so proud of what Noah and Jamie have accomplished, and are also excited that a player of Lucie's caliber has added her support to this special night.”
Safarova, 27, is a native of the Czech Republic. She has won five titles since turning pro in 2002, most recently in Quebec City last year. In addition to her semifinal run at Wimbledon, which included a win over 10th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova, Safarova reached the fourth round at Roland Garros. Her current ranking matches her career best.
“I am looking forward to taking part in this important night and to see firsthand what John and the Johnny Mac Tennis Project are accomplishing by competing against Jamie,” said Safarova. “I am very familiar with what John and his team are doing in New York City, as two of my long-time friends on Tour, Martina Sucha from Slovakia and Hana Sromova from the Czech Republic, are both members of the JMTA coaching team. So, I am pleased to be able to help support the cause as I prepare to do some damage at the 2014 U.S. Open.”
Eighteen-year-old Rubin of Long Island advanced through qualifying, winning eight matches–six in the main draw–on the Wimbledon grass to claim the 2014 Boys Junior Title. He defeated sixth-seeded Stefan Kozlov in the finals to cap a run that also included wins over the seventh and 12th seeds.
Loeb, 19, from Ossining, N.Y., had an incredible year at UNC, recording a 53-4 singles mark, including a 19-1 mark in the fall, racking up the most single-season wins in UNC history, and helping the Tar Heels to the National Championship match. The ITA All-American in singles and doubles is also the first UNC female player to be the top-ranked singles player in the country.
The evening will also include pro-celebrity doubles action, featuring Djokovic, McEnroe and their guests, New York Rangers all-star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Hollywood superstar Edward Norton, both almost as serious about their tennis as they are about their day jobs, as well as other promising junior players from the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, a lively auction and great hospitality, with all net proceeds to support the efforts of Johnny Mac Tennis Project, a 501(c)(3) public charity.
JMTP provides scholarships, coaching, transportation and other financial assistance to qualified young tennis players in the greater New York area, as well as introducing the sport to hundreds of new junior players each year in the neighborhoods surrounding Academy locations. JMTP benefit nights in previous years have featured the likes of Bjorn Borg (2011), Andre Agassi (2012) and Jim Courier (2013). JMTP and Sportime Clubs, home of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, have already provided more than $1.5 million in scholarships and no cost programming to young players in New York City and its surrounding communities.