Belmont’s Karagozyan creates Rally for Tennis fundraiser to benefit Advantage Kids
BELMONT, MA - Alek Karagozyan has had an unforgettable 2021. Just four years after playing his first junior tournament, the 16-year-old rising junior at Belmont High (MA) reached the finals of the 16 and under New England Junior Sectionals in June. In the spring, he was selected to join the New England Player Council, a group of junior players dedicated to improving junior tennis in New England. Now, Karagozyan is organizing a fundraising tournament to benefit Advantage Kids, New Hampshire’s only National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter, in order to help provide more tennis opportunities for kids throughout the Granite State.
The tournament, called Rally for Tennis, will take place on Sunday, August 15 at Longfellow New Hampshire in Nashua.
Alek tells us about what to expect from the tournament and what inspired him to create it.
How did you first come up with the idea for this fundraiser?
I first heard about Advantage Kids through another junior player, Oziera Ahmad. We both have the same coach, Laury Hammel, and they both told me everything the organization does financially for players and the opportunities they provide. When I was younger, I didn’t know how expensive tennis could be, from training and traveling to all the gear. I realized that there could be so much talent out there with a little less luck or less fortunate of a situation, and I didn’t want that to be the reason someone doesn't have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
What was the reaction from Advantage Kids when you mentioned the idea?
They couldn’t have been happier. Dawn Dragon and Brittany Boles are so kind and sweet and supportive of the cause. They were ecstatic that I was reaching out on my own and impressed with the whole concept. It’s not only helping them out, but it’s a great learning opportunity to be working on a project like this.
Did you have help planning this or have you been doing it on your own?
I’ve had some help from my friends Cole (rising freshman) and Tait Oberg (rising junior), junior players from Weston, MA. They really jumped on board when I asked them, which has been awesome. But besides that, I’ve been trying to create it from the ground up. I built the website on my own, which I only knew a little about, so I had to do some research on it. I contacted all the vendors and did most of the outreach to the players.
Who can play in the tournament?
The tournament is open to all junior players, as long as they commit to raising at least $50. Friends and family are also welcome to attend the tournament and may be able to participate depending on availability.
What will the tournament format be?
The tournament will be a round robin format and capped at 48 players. Players will register as individuals and then be placed with a doubles partner on the day of the tournament. Our coaches on hand will assess the participants and do their best to create fair pairings. It could be mixed gender, gender, whatever teams the coaches see fit.
- Alek Karagozyan (right) with Cole (center) and Tait Oberg.
- Alek and coach Laury Hammel at Junior Sectionals.
- Alek with Boys' 16s Junior Sectionals Champion Coleman Merce and TD Phil Parrish.
Will the event feature just tennis?
Longfellow Nashua was extremely generous and donated the courts to us, which was completely unexpected. They’re also giving us access to the pool. We will have food and raffle items that have been donated, and all players will receive t-shirts and goodie bags.
What are you most looking forward to with the tournament?
It’s definitely a combination of having fun at the event and getting to see everyone again. With COVID, it was difficult to hang out with people and replicate that tournament atmosphere that we’re used to. It forced us apart, but hopefully this makes up for lost time. Also, being able to help Advantage Kids is amazing. It’s great knowing that I’m having fun and also helping someone else have fun by playing tennis in their future.
At the time of writing, the tournament raised nearly $9,000 of its $10,000 fundraising goal. Learn more, register and donate to Rally for Tennis by visiting rallyfortennis.com.