Up until about 8 years ago options in New York City could be pretty limited for tennis development, particularly if you were a younger player with pro aspirations and didn't have the means to play year-round and craft your game with a private trainer. But that changed for the better once another hometown kid and tennis icon -- John McEnroe -- opened his tennis academy at SPORTIME on Randall's Island back in 2010, the flagship location for the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) and for the SPORTIME's twelve clubs.
At a recent weekend training, development, and tournament event at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy on Randall's Island in February and March, Wooter was proud to have a number of students sport Wooter Apparel. Two programs really are the heart of the Johnny Mac Tennis Project: free community tennis programs and college pathway and advanced training, which features 60 scholarship students. Wooter Apparel works exclusively with three SPORTIME store locations (and Wooter's own John McEnroe Tennis Academy Fan Shop).
Past JMTP scholarship recipients have received scholarships and/or favored recruitment into NCAA collegiate programs including Amherst, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, University of North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Yale among other collegiate programs, with former students Noah Rubin and Jamie Loeb currently playing professionally. To date, roughly 5,071 students have participated in the JMTP, with 256 scholarships awarded, and $5 million awarded in scholarships and community programs.
A 501(c3) non-profit organization that assists underprivileged kids and families overcome social and financial obstacles and reach their goals, the JMTP both introduces and teaches the game of tennis to thousands of inner-city youth from around NYC (East Harlem and the South Bronx), with a concentrated focus on health, fitness, and achieving success through competitive tennis. The opportunities are endless, with students able to earn college scholarship offers, develop a career in tennis, play professionally in the US or around the world...or who knows? Maybe a future US Open or Wimbledon winner can point back to their time at JMTP and remember where it all started.
"The dream is to bring the buzz back to American tennis, starting in New York. Tennis is a great community-sport, but we need to make it more accessible to those of every income level and in communities where tennis has not been accessible in the past," said John McEnroe about the vision of Johnny Mac Tennis Project.
He would know. McEnroe, who takes an active role with students and campers, grew up in Douglas Manor in Queens, New York and began playing on the courts where he took thousands of practice balls from his two brothers, Mark and Patrick, to help him get better. The hard work paid off. At 18 years old and sporting long hair and a signature head band, McEnroe's own pathway led him from New York to Wimbledon, as he captured three US Open titles by 22-years old and his first Wimbledon in 1981.
It was just the beginning of a legendary career, one which started in similar fashion to the same kids taking hundreds of practice balls these days at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
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