US Open Excellence Cup participants live dream in Big Apple

2019 USTA Excellence Cup presented by American Express participants at Flushing Meadows.
September 9, 2019 12:15 PM

Two dozen of the best NJTL players ages 16-and-under were nominated by their coaches and selected by USTA Foundation and USTA Player Development to participate in the second-annual US Open Excellence Cup presented by American Express.

The student-athletes and their coaches were rewarded with an all-expenses paid dream trip to New York City from Sept. 4-7, where the balanced playing both tourists, and tennis.

The group visited several famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building and the Museum of Natural History, and hit the courts at both the former and current homes of the US Open.

First, they stepped on the hallowed lawns at the West Side Tennis Club, where some played grass-court tennis for the first time in a three-hour tennis session. 

While at the historic Forest Hills venue, home of the US Open from 1915-20 and 1924-77, the group enjoyed lunch and an inspirational talk from the club's director of tennis, 1993 French Open doubles champion Luke Jensen. 

The players also attended the USTA Foundation’s Pro-Am at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, met with Grand Slam champions, watched the women's semifinals as a group and had the opportunity to take part in a Q&A session with USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman.

"I hope that they feel like they're part of a legacy," Blackman said. "I hope that they have a sense of how they've gotten here, and hopefully, as sense of obligation and motivation that they're able to give back to the next generation."

On Saturday, Sept. 8, the group competed in round-robin play on the courts in Flushing Meadows, and finished the trip with an awards luncheon held at the Grandstand Stadium Overlook.

"As a coach, you want your players to have an opportunity like this," said Sanjin Kunovac, director of tennis at the Legacy Youth Tennis & Education NJTL in Philadelphia.

"I wish I had it, but I'm so glad that they had it, and hopefully, when they grow up, they'll be able to pass along this opportunity to someone else."



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