USTA New England celebrates Tennis at HOF Open
Samantha Parlato, Sports Marketing Intern | July 25, 2018
NEWPORT, RI- The International Tennis Hall of Fame hosted the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open for the Van Alen Cup from July 15-22. USTA New England continued their longstanding partnership with the Hall of Fame by being present all week at various events, ceremonies and the USTA New England booth and Net Generation Fan Zone.
The Fan Zone offered non-stop fun and tennis for the public. Different organizations, New England schools, National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters and Junior Team Tennis (JTT) teams were invited to enjoy activities such as a serve speed radar, rebound wall and open play throughout the week. The Fan Zone was run by Christy Bennett, USTA New England Tennis Service Representative for Southeastern Mass. and Rhode Island.
“It was an incredible week and amazing experience to have so many kids come to our Fan Zone and be able to play tennis on courts next to the professional players,” said Bennett. ADVERTISEMENT “Net Generation is our official youth tennis brand and home for all youth tennis programming, and this week was a great opportunity to continue raising awareness of the great tennis opportunities that are out there.”
USTA’s Member Appreciation Day was celebrated on Tuesday, July 17. Members enjoyed a free gift and a complimentary lunch provided on the Horseshoe Piazza overlooking match play. Between the second and third match of the day was the No. 1’s Tournament Ceremony, where USTA New England honored all the 2017 No. 1 ranked adult tournament players, singles and doubles, in all age divisions on center court.
On the same day, the New England Senior Tennis Foundation introduced the Irving Levine Award this year. Irving Levine played tennis for more than 80 years and helped to start and grow the annual Friendship Cup, and founded the New England Senior Tennis Foundation alongside his wife Bernice. The Irving Levine award was presented to his longtime friend and doubles partner, Henry Tiberio, following the No. 1’s Tournament Ceremony.
The Youth Tennis Foundation of New England presented Jake Agna, founder of “Kids on the Ball” with the Ned Weld Award, also on Tuesday. The Ned Weld Award is given to a player who embodies the spirit of competition and giving back, and Agna received this honor because of his foundation, which works to provide tennis to under-served, at risk youth in Burlington, VT, New Orleans, and Havana, Cuba.
Following the presentations, USTA New England President, Peter Parrotta, kicked off the third match of the day with a ceremonial coin toss. Many of the coin tosses throughout the tournament were done by kids with special Net Generation coins.
On Wednesday, USTA Rhode Island recognized their College Tennis Players of the Year. The awards are presented equally to the male and the female college players who are from Rhode Island, but not necessarily playing at a Rhode Island school. Matt Kuhar, Bryant University graduate student, received the Andy Chase/Gordie Ernst Award for the third year in a row and rising junior, Natalia Pezzuco, of Union College, received the Jill Craybas Award.
USTA New England wrapped up the week of the Fan Zone with Wheelchair Day on Friday. The day included open play in the morning and a wheelchair clinic in the afternoon. Joanne Wallen, USTA’s Director of Individual Play and Wheelchair Tennis, added her expertise to the clinic.
“Wheelchair day was as great and fun as ever this year. People of all ages came out to join our clinic, including wheelchair players and persons who don’t normally play in wheelchairs,” said Chantal Roche, USTA New England’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager. “This year was our highest attendance and it was great to see Peter Parrotta, USTA New England Board President, come and try out a wheelchair himself!”
Longtime friends and frequent rivals, world No. 3 Sloane Stephens and world No. 12 Madison Keys, played an exhibition match on Friday. This was the first time in nearly three decades that prominent women’s tennis stars had played at the Hall of Fame. Keys defeated Stephens with a 6-4, 6-3 win amid smiles and laughter between the two friends.
Saturday was a special day for the tournament as the International Tennis Hall of Fame inducted two new members: Michael Stich of Germany and Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic. Following the induction ceremony, the singles semi-finals took place, where Ramkumar Ramanathan defeated Tim Smyczek and Steve Johnson defeated Marcel Granollers. The doubles final was also played on Saturday, where Jonathan Erlich and Artem Sitak took the championship with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Marcelo Arevalo and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela.
The conclusion of the tournament was threatened by rain Sunday morning, but the skies cleared and a champion was able to be crowned. Johnson defeated first-time ATP Finalist Ramanathan 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to win his fourth career ATP title and second this year.
“USTA New England has been an outstanding partner for the International Tennis Hall of Fame and helped us to make our week-long event even more exciting for all the fans. The Net Generation Fan Zone is a great way to keep kids involved and get them playing during the tournament, and the booth was engaging and provided information and prizes for everyone,” said Todd Martin, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “It was great to see so many members out for USTA Day. We look forward to growing these types of programs with USTA New England in the future.”
Click here for photos from the Fan Zone.