USTA Eastern Celebrates Black History Month

February 15, 2017

In celebration of Black History Month, USTA Eastern is proud to recognize a player, volunteer and provider who all have an incredible passion for playing and growing tennis.

Evelyne Laine  

  • First picked up a racquet in 2002, then began taking group lessons at Sportsplex in New Windsor, N.Y.
  • “I was absolutely amazed at the degree to which I was enjoying every aspect of the sport: the physical benefits, social connections, competitiveness, etc.,” Laine said.
  • She began hitting regularly with a local group of beginners to improve her game
  • Laine started playing USTA League as a 3.0 player, and went on to compete on the 7.0 Mixed team that finished first at the USTA League National Championships
  • In addition to league play, Laine started working as a volunteer at Sportsplex to introduce tennis to local children
  • She now competes as a 4.5 USTA League player, and values the lasting friendships she has made through tennis
  • Laine brings her racquet with her wherever she travels as she believes there is always a chance she could meet someone new to hit with

 Johnny Benoit

  • Active member of the Southern Region Board of Directors
  • Head tennis pro for the Town of Ramapo, N.Y. ADVERTISEMENT for more than 10 years 
  • Through his role with the town, he creates a dynamic atmosphere for summer camp, where kids of all ages come together to learn and improve their tennis skills
  • In addition, Benoit designs clinics for adults and children that include cardio tennis, drills and match play
  • With his associate degree in physical education, Benoit particularly enjoys teaching tennis to children, and is currently pursuing occupation therapy, another tool he believes will make him a better tennis instructor
  • Benoit's goal is to keep learning and sharing the love of tennis with anyone that he comes across, in pursuit of growing the game
  • "Tennis has always been a great passion of mine and I will continue to share it with others as long as God allows me to," Benoit said. 

 Kela Simunyola

  • Runs Kela Indoor Tennis in Mount Vernon, N.Y.
  • Dedicated coach who excels in junior player development
  • Enjoys watching his family participate in tennis, as he attended USTA Eastern’s Junior Awards Gala last August to see his granddaughter, Ligaya Murray, recognized for being the No. 1-ranked player in the 10 and Under age division
  • As Murray’s coach, Simunyola particularly enjoys watching her succeed and have fun as a young player?

To learn more about Simunyola, click here to read an article by USOpen.org highlighting the strong love he and his family have for tennis. 



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