This year, two Long Islanders had the opportunity to live out one of their dreams by getting to play in the 2010 U.S. Open Junior Tournament. The U.S. Open Junior Tournament is played on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the U.S. Open. Long Island Tennis Magazine spoke with the two top Long Island juniors, Julia Elbaba of Oyster Bay, N.Y. and Shaun Bernstein of Plainview, N.Y., to get their thoughts on their big moment. Julia played both girls singles and doubles at the 2010 Junior Open, while Shaun played boys singles.
“It was really exciting to finally be able to play at the U.S. Open after going as a spectator from the age of five until now. Getting a player's badge made it official, being that I got second looks from most teenaged girls and mothers that walked by. I thought I played okay, but didn't serve well enough to win on that particular day.
“My opponent was a good competitor, stayed level-headed, and closed out the match well. It was extremely fun to get the chance to play an official match on those courts, and to finally say that I competed in the U.S. Open.
“This will be an experience that will stay with me for a while, even though I lost in straight sets in the first round. This was a very significant point in my life and tennis career, for it was my final tournament competing as a junior. It was a great way to conclude the last several years as a junior player, and now I am off to the next step in my tennis and life in having the privilege to attend the University of Michigan.
“It was also great to have my long-time coach, Lawrence Kleger, on hand to watch, as well as my other coach, Salomon Levy, my college coach Bruce Berque, and most importantly, my family and a few friends.
“I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know who showed up that it meant a lot, and that I couldn't be more appreciative of your support. Long Island tennis has treated me well up until now, and I have definitely met a lot of great people along the way.”
"As a kid growing up, I've always been inspired by the amazing tennis played at the U.S Open. Being able to play in it this year for the first time was a dream come true and an unforgettable experience.
“My favorite part of the experience was having a team with me, ‘The J-Block,’ which consisted of my family members and many friends who cheered me on during my three singles and two doubles matches. My fans were very supportive as well.
“It was a great feeling being able to gain entry into the U.S. Open Junior Tournament on my own based on my own hard work. I got in off of my own ITF Girls 18s ranking, rather than being handed a wild card by the USTA. All of the traveling for ITF tournaments has really paid off!
“I feel fortunate to have this Grand Slam event in my own backyard where I am able to train throughout the two weeks with my fitness trainer and tennis coach, and compete at the highest level without traveling.”