Middle States

No Spoilers

Tennis and Game of Thrones

No Spoilers - Tennis and Game of Thrones


No Spoilers - Tennis and Game of Thrones

Sanjin Kunovac and Kat Sorokko are happy to tell you how tennis brought them together and even helped them earn a spot on Game of Thrones. But they always have to be careful when discussing the final season or any of the show's details.


“Have you seen it? I don’t want to give anything away,” Sanjin asked with a laugh. “What did you think of the final episode? I always love hearing what people think about it.”


Now married and both staffers at Legacy Youth Tennis and Ecuation, the duo actually played a part in that final episode of the popular series. Sanjin (the Director of Tennis) and Kat Associate General Manager) traveled to Belfast during the summer of 2018 to appear as extras in the HBO series.  


It all happened because of tennis.


Sanjin began with Legacy in 2011, and quickly emerged as one of the most recognizable young coaches in the section. ADVERTISEMENT He trains many highly-ranked juniors and has been involved with volunteer leadership roles, including a spot on the Middle States Coaches Commission. Kat came to Philadelphia from New York where she was the Director of Player Development at John McEnroe Tennis Academy, working with many top national junior players, including her younger sister, who is playing a freshman this year at Princeton University.


Sanjin’s connection to Game of Thrones came when his name was passed along by a former student to actress Amanda Peet. Peet was writing “Our Very Own Carlin McCullough,” a play about a tennis phenom that premiered last year in Los Angeles. Peet reached out to Kunovac to ask a few questions regarding his current position at Legacy as well as his time as a player and coach at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. For example what life is like for students at a tennis academy, and what a coach might say (or maybe more importantly, what he or she might not say).


At one point, Peet visited Legacy to review some of the scripts in person.


“It was the most amazing, surreal experience, getting to sit face to face with someone I’ve seen in the movies for years and now,” Sanjin said. “And here I am looking over the script and reading lines with her.”


Peet asked Sanjin how she could repay them. Peet’s husband, David Benioff, is co-creator of Game of Thrones, and Sanjin knew that. So he simply asked the question most Thrones fans only dream of.


“Can I get on Game of Thrones?”


“Before I could even get the question out, she said ‘Sorry, No way. It’s not going to happen,” he recalled. “It’s such a popular show. Everyone wants to be on it. “


“Instead of that, Amanda was so generous that she sent us two large packets that had way too much Game of Thrones Swag, including all the seasons on Blue Ray, board games, and so much more,” Sanjin said. “Fast forward a few months late later, I got a call from Amanda. The first thing she says, do you still want to be on Game of Thrones? They are shooting the  last episode and could use an extra.”


Next thing he knew, he and Kat were on their way to Belfast.


“At the beginning it was just supposed to be me, because we did not know if they had any roles for female extras,” he said. “But I told them Kat was with me, and asked if they had room for one more. It's a once in a lifetime, so you have to ask. They looked at me like I was crazy, but the next thing you know, we were both on set.”


The couple shot a number of scenes, with a few shots not making the final cut. Sanjin played the role of a Dothraki warrior, and Kat played a character from King’s Landing. They both can be seen in the final episode — as long as you know where to look.


“Even though we were extras we were able to be in the green room with the main cast in between filming,” Sanjin said. “Being on this extraordinary set in Belfast with all these talented actors and getting to spend two days on the set with Peter Dinglage and Kit Harrington was beyond of an amazing experience.” 



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