EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Tennis legend John McEnroe played an exhibition tennis game in front of a large crowd with Peter Fleming and two Westchester County teens to kick off his new tennis academy at Lake Isle in Eastchester.
The John McEnroe Tennis Academy at the new Sportime Lake Isle is slated to be one of the most prestigious in the region, allowing for up to 100 devoted youth tennis players to be trained by champions to become champions. McEnroe already has an academy on Randall’s Island, and is opening a Long Island location as well.
“John will be here on a regular basis and has hand selected by the professionals that will be here teaching,” Managing Director for Westchester and Long Island Sportime Eric Fromm said.
Two girls, who play tennis regularly at Lake Isle and will be students at the academy, were selected to participate in the exhibition game. Alexandra Sabe of Rye is No. 4 in the east for girls 16 and under. Christina Sisti of Mount Vernon is No. 6 in the east of girls 14 and under.
“It was nerve racking, but exciting at the same time,” said Sisti about playing a game with McEnroe.
Sisti is hoping to go to Boston College for tennis, a Division 1 school, and hopes that her participation in the academy will get her there.
“It’s taught in an academy style and there are really good coaches here,” she said.
The academy’s program is focused on training urban children and to encourage them to focus on a sport they love while continuing to live at home and pursue their educational goals. McEnroe said his goal for the program is to be able to have players travel to and from each academy over time to help broaden their playing experiences.
“The idea would be potentially that some players would come here once or twice a week, and then go down to Randall’s Island,” said McEnroe about Sportime Lake Isle.
Children of all ages came down to the court after the exhibition game to practice hitting tennis balls with coaches while McEnroe looked on. Afterwards, McEnroe and Fleming signed autographs for the children and even some of their enthusiastic parents.
“Everything is up to you and no one else, it’s in your control to win,” Robby Simon, a Bronxville youth tennis player, said about the sport and training with McEnroe. “I wouldn’t mind being No. 1 in the world.”