Rod Laver, 50 years of NJTL celebrated at Opening Night Gala

August 26, 2019 11:00 PM

It was a star-studded night in more ways than one at the USTA Foundation's 19th-annual Opening Night Gala at the US Open. The Gala, presented by ESPN, celebrated two milestones on their 50-year anniversaries: the founding of the National Junior Tennis and Learning network, and Rod Laver's second calendar-year Grand Slam.

While Laver was completing his second Grand Slam in 1969 with his victory at the US Open, NJTL founders Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell, and Sheridan Snyder were in high gear setting up the first three NJTL chapters in the organization's history, which has since spread to all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

With a warm welcome by USTAF President Tom Chen, the gala was emceed by celebrity guests Alec Baldwin and Katie Couric, and honored the NJTL's co-founders with the Serving Up Dreams Award. Pasarell, Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe, and Dan Snyder, son of Sheridan, accepted the award. 

"I remember very well, Sherry, Arthur and I, formulating a plan of how to proceed in implementing this junior program," Pasarell said. "The three of us are extremely proud to know that through the NJTL, the lives of many young people have been impacted in positive ways."

Fittingly, as the only player in tennis history to have achieved two Grand Slams, Laver received the inaugural USTAF Trailblazer Award.

Approximately $1.2 million in gross revenues was raised in conjunction with the event, including sponsorship, ticket sales and auction proceeds of $130,000. USTAF chairperson Chris Evert served up a personal challenge to the audience which alone resulted in pledges totaling $25,000.

Live and silent auction experiences included a lunch with Baldwin and Couric, VIP concert tickets and a meet-and-greet with country music star Luke Bryan, a finals weekend package at Wimbledon in 2020, and a luxury trip to Bermuda.



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