Over 40 junior tennis players showed their skills to tennis scouts and former pros at Sportime Kings Park on June 23rd as they competed for a scholarship to Sportime Kings Park. The aspiring tennis stars, who ranged in age from six-years-old through 16, went through a series of drills and played points against former pros, including Robert Kendrick and Bea Bielik, hoping to earn one full-year and one half-year scholarship to attend the Sportime Kings Park junior tennis program. The panel of judges included COO of Sportime Jeff Crown, Sportime Executive Director and Director of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) Lawrence Kleger, Sportime’s Regional Director of Tennis for Long Island Mike Kossoff, Sportime Regional Manager Jay Harris, JMTA Coach Bielik, and Robert Kendrick, a member of Sportime’s own New York Sportimes World TeamTennis franchise.
"This is an event to bring in junior talent from the area," said Kleger. "We look at all of the players and based on their potential we choose the two best players and award them each a scholarship, one for a full year and one for half a year."
Kleger added that he was also looking at players to see if they qualify for the John McEnroe Tennis Academy Annex located at Sportime Bethpage. Former pro player Robert Kendrick, who is director of tennis at Sportime Syosset and co-director of the JMTA, said that he believed a few of the kids would definitely qualify for the Academy.
"We're not just assessing their tennis skills, but are also looking to see how well they move on the court and how athletic they are," said Kendrick. "We're checking for raw talent and seeing how fast they move and looking at hand-eye coordination."
Bielik, who at one time was ranked 130th in WTA singles, said she thought the whole event was fantastic and said she is a big supporter of tennis programs and the kids who are involved. She was excited for what a scholarship could do for these kids.
"I'm really excited to be a part of this event and involved with trying to find kids who enjoy playing tennis and are excited by the sport," said Bielik.
The two scholarship winners will be notified before July 4th.
Credit all photos to Erin Brown
<p> Gary Simeone is writing intern/public relations associate for <em>Long Island Tennis Magazine</em>.</p>