I received this press release from good friend, Joe Favorito and I’ll post this. Famed tennis star and analyst John McEnroe has announced that he’s opening a World Class tennis academy on Randall’s Island in New York. It’ll begin operations after the US Open in September. We have a press release for you.
Tennis Legend And Former #1 New York Announces Plans To Open World Class Tennis Academy In
John McEnroe Academy To Hold Open Tryouts For Scholarships In July
The John McEnroe Tennis Academy to Open in September at the new $18 Million SPORTIME at Randall’s Island Tennis Center
NEW YORK (May 19, 2010) – Hall of Famer, native New Yorker and former world number one John McEnroe today announced that he will open and direct the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, with its inaugural, full-year programs commencing just after the 2010 US Open. The McEnroe Academy will be housed at the new $18 Million SPORTIME at Randall’s Island Tennis Center in . SPORTIME, owner of 13 tennis and fitness clubs throughout New York State, will operate the club and will partner with McEnroe in the operation of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
The announcement today is the culmination of McEnroe’s longstanding goal to develop and oversee an academy that will embrace many of the best elements of McEnroe’s own childhood experience, updated for the modern game and based on McEnroe’s unique perspective. As a junior, McEnroe worked with renowned coaches Harry Hopman and Tony Palafox and a worldclass, international staff of instructors in a non-residential setting that drew the best and brightest players from all over the New York Metropolitan area. The McEnroe Academy will encourage its students to take advantage of the many educational, athletic and cultural opportunities that New York City has to offer.
“For many years the United States has struggled to develop its next class of elite players. I believe that I can inspire young players the way that my coaches inspired me. And I plan to create a system, like the one that I learned in, that supports building an all-around person, as opposed to a tennis machine,” McEnroe said. “My academy, based here in the world’s greatest city, will provide a balance of world-class tennis and fitness training, along with a New York experience, so maybe our kids will be a little more creative, a little more intense, and will be able to think on their feet a little better, like any New Yorker. Over time and with my guidance and that of our hand-picked coaches and pros, I think our students will see great success.”
Rather than a tennis-only approach, the McEnroe Academy will support a balanced training experience for the developing elite player. All or virtually all students who are admitted to the Academy will attend a conventional school during the day and will train after school hours and on weekends during the school year. And they won’t be encouraged to play tennis 7 days a week. The Academy will offer tennis coaching, training and practice, coaching at on and off site tournaments, a fitness component and an academic support team. Students will live in New York City or the surrounding area. The cost of the Academy will be determined by each student’s personal plan, and partial and full scholarships will be available based on need and ability. In cases of need, the Academy will also provide equipment and apparel, as well as tournament travel and coaching, at no cost to the student. McEnroe has selected former ATP, Olympic and Israeli Davis Cup player Gilad Bloom as the Academy’s Director of Tennis and he and McEnroe are assembling a top-tier staff of international instructors and coaches.
McEnroe also announced that the Academy will hold open tryouts this July for young persons interested in attending the McEnroe Academy starting in September. One boy and one girl between the ages of 8 and 16 will be selected by McEnroe to receive a full scholarship for a year of training at the McEnroe Academy. The tryouts will be held on July 14 for boys and on July 19 for girls, beginning at 8:30am each day, at SPORTIME at Randall’s Island, One Randall’s Island, Manhattan. The tryouts will last the entire day for those who progress to the final rounds, and all finalists will be invited to watch McEnroe’s World TeamTennis team play on the evening of their respective try-out dates. Each day’s winner will receive his/her scholarship award from McEnroe at half time of that evening’s televised match.
On July 14, the date of the boys’ try-outs, the NY Sportimes will battle Billie Jean King’s own Philadelphia Freedom franchise, and that match will feature the first-ever NYC match-up between John McEnroe, playing for NY and Andy Roddick playing for Philly. On July 19, the date of the girls’ try-outs, the Sportimes take on the Albany based NY Buzz and their star Martina Hingis. Playing for the Sportimes that night will be John McEnroe and Kim Clijsters. Details on the tryouts can be found at www.sportimeny.com/JohnMcEnroeTennisAcademy.
SPORTIME at Randall’s Island, which opened less than a year ago, is the flagship of SPORTIME’s 13 tennis, fitness and sports clubs across New York State. SPORTIME clubs serve over 25,000 tennis and fitness enthusiasts, including more than 10,000 junior players. The Randall’s Island facility features 20 indoor/outdoor Deco-Turf and Har-Tru courts, all enclosed during the indoor season and lighted for evening play year-round. The facility also offers a 20,000 square foot clubhouse, with classrooms, a computer lounge, a state-of-the-art fitness and training center, a pro shop and café and more. The SPORTIME facility also includes an intimate, modern tennis stadium with seating for 2,500 fans, which is home each July to New York’s World TeamTennis franchise, the NY Sportimes, of which McEnroe has been captain since 2000.
The SPORTIME facility is part of the rebirth of Randall’s Island, located just off the East Side of Manhattan below the RFK Bridge. The facilities on the island now include , a state-of-the-art track and field facility, nearly 70 reconstructed baseball, soccer and softball fields, and a renovated Golf Center. The Randall’s Island Sports Foundation manages the Island, and Sportime constructed and operates the tennis center under a 20-year license agreement with the Foundation and the City.
For all the details on the Academy, visit www.sportimeny.com/JohnMcEnroeTennisAcademy. Tickets for the NY Sportimes WTT matches are available by calling 888-WTT-NYC1 or by visiting www.nysportimes.com.
John McEnroe/Claude Okin Conference Call – Highlight Q&A19 May 2010John McEnroeOn why he started John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA)If you know me, this is something I’ve wanted for a long time, having grown up in the New York area and seeing tennis somewhat disintegrate here — the buzz we used to have at the Port Washington Tennis Academy and subsequently playing at the US Open so it seemed only natural for me to put together a tennis academy in the N.Y. area. I used to play other sports on Randall’s Island, High School at Trinity. They’ve put in hundreds of millions of dollars, including this tennis facility. It’s great for the City of New York.I’m living proof of someone who can live “a normal life,” go to school and play other sports, and succeed in tennis.I hope this will provide a different opportunity for young kids here who want to go another way besides living at Florida or California academies.The aim is to have an academy at Randalls Island along lines of the Academy I grew up with: my brothers were there, Vitas Gerulaitis, Peter Fleming. I don’t know of a player from this area who has made it in the last 25 years.On why it has been difficult to recruit elite tennis players in the N.Y. areaI think people follow what was successful in the past. They are influenced rather easily; they think you need to live someplace like Bollettieri, leave your parents at age six or eight. We’re looking to provide a different option, similar to what I had at Port Washington.On the role of Education at tennis academiesI would encourage kids to remain in school. I expect some individuals will talk about home schooling and we will do our best to make sure they succeed if they don’t make it to the level they or their parents believe they would in tennis.I’m living proof of someone who went to school in Manhattan, and even went to a year of college, which would be sacrilegious at this time. But look at a guy like Isner, an example of someone who matured later, he spent all four years of college eligibility, he’s playing his best, coming into his own at a later age. Of course, not everyone will be 6’9 but he’s exactly the type that I would like to target, enjoys success and in a better position to handle it emotionally.On his participation level at the JMTANumber one, even at 51, I love to be on the court. Occasionally I still play a Senior Champions Tour event to get the juices flowing. I don’t believe this can succeed at the level we want unless I’m here regularly.On the JMTA as competitive to USTA and its programsIt would appear on paper that we are competing, but I would say that according to the charter of the USTA, it is to help tennis in as many ways possible and to provide grants for people in all different types of situations, so as far as I’m concerned, they should be helping us.On whether the opening of the JMTA is a criticism of how the USTA has developed tennis playersI hope to provide a type of inspiration for young kids. Maybe I’m biased but when I came into the sport in the 70s and 80s seemed like a great time for the sport. More kids are playing now, at least, now we need to get them to continue to play. The USTA makes an obscene amount of money for one tournament. They have a $150 million portfolio, I’m not sure what they are supposed to be doing with that money.For many years, I talked to the USTA about this type of thing at the tennis center, naming it the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, but I was unable to get through. Now I have this tremendous opportunity to work with Claude and his people on a facility that is as good or better than the Tennis Center. With the tens of millions they make in a single year I would think that it’s in their best interest and the sport’s best interest to welcome us with open arms and provide us with money that they provide other programs.On his brother Patrick’s reaction to the JMTAI have not spoken to him specifically about the Academy, but he hasn’t called to congratulate me. I don’t know that that means.On what the French and Spanish have done to be so successfulEvery case is different, but what I believe they’ve done is to put more money into it, they got backing from major sponsors or the government. Plus, they have gotten the top players to travel together, like a team. We’ve alienated too much. We are too concerned with rankings at 12-14, all different types of rankings, it’s so complicated. There are some diamonds in the rough in other sports we want to bring into this sport.On the value of World TeamTennisTeamTennis is nice because it reminds me of one of the reasons I like Davis Cup, you’re part of a team, can rally around other individuals. It’s also different in that you have the guys and girls together, not the same as Wimbledon. Things happen faster, the format is quick, they learn to be ready for the first ball, matches are 15-30 minutes. It’s a good opportunity to get match play and to get ready for bigger things down the road.On who he sees winning Roland Garros this yearI’m not going to go on a limb. Nadal is the overwhelming favorite, and I would pick Federer as next. But you have to see the draw. The women more unpredictable. I don’t know the status of Henin, but she is the favorite, she’s had the most success there. The Williams sisters are the “X factor,” they’re capable of winning, but sometimes they lose their way on clay. It’s more of crap shot after those.On the two-year PED-related suspension today of Wayne OdesnikIt’s pretty clear cut with that particular performance enhancing drug, that’s the penalty, so I’m not surprised. They are looking to send a message. He’s a lower ranked player, so everyone is hoping that’s not something that is a problem higher up. Tennis players are tested more than any other athletes.On NBA Star LeBron James’s Free Agency and the possibility that he might join the N.Y. KnicksI would give him a free lesson at JMTA anytime he wants. He’s probably pretty good at tennis, a big serve. I think this is not only important for the Knicks, that goes without saying, with the next five years on the line, maybe the next 10, but for New York, this unbelievable buzz. I’ll even go as far as to say that my academy would get better people if he comes, along with Dwyane Wade or Chirs Bosh, we’ll take him.On movement and quickness on the court, ability vs. teachingI think that some of it is innate, which is partially why we want to get more great athletes in to the sport. But maybe more important is the mental side, the ability to think ahead, where to be, flowing within your feet, hands.On the risk of setting up the JMTA in this economy, and the prospects of working with USTAWe’re open to discussion. We’re fortunate that in this area there are maybe 20 million people within a 30-minute radius and a fair amount that love game of tennis. The program is going on right now. Now we’re looking to get more of an elite player, make it NCAA Division 1 or make it professionally. JMPTA will be starting in September full scale. We also are working on getting corporate sponsorship to be able to provide the type of opportunity we want to give players who can’t afford this kind of training.On the possibility of expanding the Academy past the New York area playersThe tri-state area is where we’re starting. It’s where we’re focused. I did see at the Academy, growing up, sometimes there were kids form East Europe, Australia. I don’t want to close the door, as they could provide the competition for both sides. But we’re focusing on the New York area now.Claude Okin: CEO of Sportime Clubs and NY SportimesOn SportimeSportime is a partnership that we formed in 1994. The company currently own and operates 14 tennis fitness and multi-sport clubs in N.Y. State, mostly Long Island, New York City, some Westchester, Capital region. We are tennis people: my closest colleagues here are in the tennis industry for 30 years. And we are New Yorkers.It took us more than five years from the time the City of NY first issued the Request for Proposal for us to complete this 160K square foot, 20-court facility that opened in 2009, less than a year ago, and we’re still putting the finishing touches. It cost almost $19 million.John has been the captain and star of our NY Sportimes franchise. He’s been playing for us for 10 years.Mark McEnroe, the middle brother between John and Patrick, who has forged an esteemed career in law and business, is also a big part of team. He’s the GM for the Randall’s Island Site and for the John McEnroe Tennis Academy director of corporate development. It’s a McEnroe family affair.In the coming weeks we will be announcing some key partnerships. This is not a trial balloon. The Academy is constructed and funded, there are almost 3000 tennis players using the facility now, and 1000 juniors playing now; many have had the treat of interacting with John this year – under the radar, as he has begun to put the tools in place.Whether or not we end up in quasi-partnership with the USTA, and as we add sponsors, the JMTA is going to be here for a while and produce players, and most importantly maintain enough independence that can reflect the wisdom and inspiration of John McEnroe, a pretty independent guy.On Tryouts and Scholarships to the AcademyAlthough there are many pathways, this July we will conduct open tryouts on two dates, July 14 for the boys, beginning at 8:30 a.m., then later that night John McEnroe is playing vs. Philadelphia in World TeamTennis, for the first time it will be John McEnroe vs. Andy Roddick in New York City. During the day, he’ll interact with kids to fight for full scholarships for a year at the Academy. Also on July 19th for girls tryouts, that night the Sportimes play w Kim Clijsters vs. Martina Hingis. One scholarship will go to at least 1 female winner on the 19th.Mark McEnroeOn working with John on a project of this magnitudeI have never worked with John on a project like this… I have represented him as a personal lawyer for exhibitions and other events. This endeavor is new as far as being general manager of the facility, I’ve been doing it a few months and it’s been great, and I expect it to be much better in the future.As the middle brother, I have had 45 years of experience in dealing with John and Patrick. As mentioned, emissaries form the JMTA have already approached the USTA – that would be me. Discussions have already taken place. Patrick has assured me that he is behind the USTA’s creed which is to support tennis at all levels and to try to make that happen.