Fourteen junior tennis players from Essex County representing The Maplewood Club in Maplewood, Orange Lawn Tennis Club in South Orange, and West Orange Tennis Club in West Orange participated in a Net Generation Kids on Court demonstration sponsored by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) at the 2017 US Open.
The demonstration took place at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday, August 31, prior to the first match of the day between No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Evgeniya Rodina of Russia.
Tom Battaglia, Director of Tennis at The Maplewood Club and Co-Director of Tennis and Junior Programs Coordinator at Northern Jersey Tennis, was approached by the USTA earlier this summer to select a group of young tennis hopefuls to participate in the special demonstration.
“It was a truly awesome experience, and I’m thrilled the USTA approached me to do it,” said Battaglia. “As a tennis professional, I want to make sure kids aren’t standing around in long lines waiting to hit one ball at a time, and that they’re engaging in fun-based play. And that’s what Net Generation is all about. It’s about making sure kids are learning how to play tennis the right way, on the right sized court with the right equipment, and having fun at the same time.”
Net Generation is the youth brand of the USTA and embraces all aspects of youth play for kids aged 5-18. Launching at the 2017 US Open, the program is designed to suit players based on their skill level and developmental readiness. The goal of Net Generation is to inspire a new generation of tennis players, parents and providers (coaches and those that organize tennis events.) Net Generation is focused on empowerment, unity and play, with an emphasis on learning through play and building character on and off the court – not just through drills and competition.
“We’re very excited to introduce Net Generation at this year’s US Open,” said Monica LaMura, Senior Manager of Marketing for the USTA. “It allows kids of all levels – even kids who have never picked up a racquet – to play and enjoy tennis. Through this new initiative, we’re hoping to connect more kids with local tennis programs across the country and inspire the next generation of players.”
Kids representing all three local area tennis clubs played and rallied with fellow players from MatchPoint Tennis in Goshen, N.Y. They fed the ball themselves and kept a rally going of seven or more balls. At the end of the rally, players gave each other a high-five to show their sportsmanship and unity, no matter which team they were on. Following the demonstration, 11-year-old Emmett Leonard of Maplewood was given the honor to toss the coin for the first match. Elina Svitolina would go on to defeat Evgeniya Rodina in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.
For more information about Net Generation, go to www.USTA.com.
Photo 1: Back row from left to right: Isabelle Delucca (Livingston, age 8); Kaitlyn Jeffrey (Montclair, age 11); Jordan Cohen (North Caldwell, age 12); Ellie LoPiccolo (Maplewood, age 11); Zoe Woods (Maplewood, age 9); and Georgia Floyd (Maplewood, age 10). Front row from left to right: Daniel Butkus (Maplewood, age 12); Max Poss (South Orange, age 10); Ian Wissel (Maplewood, 12); Adrian Treacy (South Orange, age 10); Leo Brash (Maplewood, age 11); Emmett Leonard (Maplewood, age 11); Justin Strugger (Maplewood, 12); and Nick Williams (Maplewood, age 12). Photo credit: Matt LoPiccolo.
Photo 2: Group shot of junior players participating in Net Generation Kids on Court demonstration at Arthur Ashe Stadium on August 31 at the 2017 US Open. Photo credit: Matt LoPiccolo.
Photo 3: 11-year-old Emmett Leonard of Maplewood with No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine (left) and Evgeniya Rodina of Russia (right) at Arthur Ashe Stadium after the coin toss. Svitolina would go on to win the match in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. Photo credit: Dawn Yoselowitz.