Tennis is a sport of a lifetime. That means both that you can play it no matter what age you are, but also that the skills and lessons you learn on the court can oftentimes be vital off of the court.
A great example of this mantra is Dylan D’Agate. The Melville native recently graduated from Half Hollow Hills East High School, where he starred on the tennis team, and will be headed to Yale this fall.
Tennis has been a major part of his life for as long as he can remember. He first played when he was around four-years-old and quickly fell in love with the sport, helped out by a trip to the U.S. Open when he was five-years-old.
“I was, and still am, fascinated by the rhythms of the sport,” he recalls. “I remember watching the greats like Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. I admired their play styles, how they moved about the court and even their clothing choices. I tried to copy their moves, clothing included.”
With that inspiration, D’Agate continued to play tennis, and about 10 years ago began attending Bethpage Park Tennis Center, taking lessons and enrolling in the club’s camp each summer.
“Bethpage has become like a second home to me,” he said. “In addition to my tennis education, I’ve established friendships and have many great memories, and I believe this is due to the great staff at Bethpage. I feel fortunate to have played with some of the top tennis pros on Long Island, and I have especially enjoyed my time spent with Steve Kaplan. His lessons have been invaluable both on and off the court. As a coach and mentor, he has taught me the importance of hard work, dedication and humility.”
That tennis education proved to be integral into D’Agate’s development as a player and person over the years, and was a big reason for the positive impact he has had while competing for one of the best high school tennis teams in the country.
D’Agate helped lead Half Hollow Hills East for the last several years, including this past season, his senior year, when he was able to advance to the New York State Individual Championships alongside doubles partner Krithik Madisetty.
“Some of my favorite memories from high school have come from my time spent on the varsity team at Hills East,” said D’Agate. “Steve Ferrantello is an amazing coach and mentor. He knows how to motivate his players to reach their full potential and is truly dedicated to the team. I reached one of my ultimate tennis goals with Krithik. Advancing to the state championships and playing at the U.S. Open, it was unforgettable. Playoff matches with the team were also a highlight; I’ll definitely miss the team’s camaraderie.”
D’Agate now prepares for the next chapter in his life as he heads up north to Yale this fall. He plans on going out for the school’s club tennis team and continuing to grow from the lessons he has learned over the years.
“Tennis has helped me become a better person off the court and has taught me many life lessons,” he said. “Playing tennis at a competitive level has given me insight into handling high-pressure situations. Steve Kaplan and the staff at Bethpage have emphasized the importance of building character, maintaining one’s composure, creating efficient habits and persevering through difficult moments, all of which are hard skills for a player to develop independently. I believe tennis has helped better prepare me to handle difficult moments in real life.”
Kaplan is someone who has overseen just how much D’Agate has grown over the years, and how his focus not only on tennis but the other important things in life, such as academics, community engagement and giving back, has helped him obtain acceptance into a top-tier institution such as Yale.
“Dylan started as a very serious tournament player as a young boy. He trained very hard and was a focused and dedicated student,” said Kaplan. “At about 14, he recognized that academics and community involvement, and not top-level tennis would be the best path to college opportunities and beyond."
Dylan D'Agate (pictured right) teaching a group this summer at Bethpage Park Tennis Center's camp.
D’Agate will finish out his summer working at the Bethpage Park Tennis Center’s camp, where he is now teaching the current students the similar lessons he learned while growing up and helping to mold the next generation of players and people.
Then, it’s off to Yale.
“I am incredibly excited to be attending Yale in a few weeks,” he said. “I hope to explore new interests in college while still delving deeper and pursuing my passions from high school.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.