There was an exciting tennis rally on the courts of the CW Post campus in Brookville on Sunday, May 19. It was not a rally in the sense of two athletes playing a hard-fought point. In this a case, the word "rally" took on another meaning, as the Incorporated Villages Association rallied local residents to the university to give people of all ages the chance to learn and play a "lifetime sport."
Rachel Rosenbaum is joined by father, Rand, on the courts at CW Post for the Tennis Free For All. Photos, captions by Mary Marks
Despite an overcast sky that hampered the weather-wary from attending, about 200 people took to the courts for the Tennis Free-for-All, a no-cost tennis carnival sponsored by the US Tennis Association, and, in this case, organized by the IVA, members of which reside in Brookville, Muttontown and Old Westbury.
"The Tennis Free-for All provides a really fun atmosphere for developing a passion for the game," said IVA President Dorothy Kobak, a tennis aficionado. The event was a vehicle for promoting community togetherness, but, said Kobak, it was equally about introducing people to a sport of skill that both young and old can play.
"This was a tremendous experience for children, especially those who stepped on a court for the first time...We couldn't get the children off the courts," Kobak laughed.
The Free-for-All was one of many free tennis events being offered in May, National Tennis Month, by the USTA, which currently offers 50 sites on Long Island where tennis carnivals and lessons are taking place. The purpose, explained USTA Long Island Region Vice President Lisa Perry, is to find "ways of getting people to play tennis at a low cost."
"What the USTA is trying to do is establish grass roots programs involving certified pros who can teach people who can't afford lessons," said Reneé Lemmerman, regional director of the USTA's Eastern Long Island Division.
"Our goal is to introduce 3,000 people to the game by this summer," said Perry. "The main reason we're doing this is for promoting health, fitness and a quality of life program."
At the same time, a side benefit is that through these events, a younger generation , members of which may wish to pursue tennis or become fans, will be exposed to the sport. With the professional ranks lacking a star personality among the Americans, tennis' fan base has to improve from its waning status, and getting kids involved is one way to do that.
Lemmerman and Perry both were helping guide and instruct young kids who were swinging rackets for the first time on the CW Post courts, as were representatives for major tennis companies such as Penn and Wilson, volunteering in any way they could.
"Our function is to give our support, whether it be sweeping courts or hitting balls," said Penn's Chuck Heydi.
"The best thing you can hear is, 'Mom or Dad, this is great! Can I keep playing? Where can I play again?'" said Joel Conybear of Wilson.
Shortly after noon, the IVA paused in its festivities to acknowledge those responsible for getting a traffic signal installed at the intersection of Route 107 and Fruitledge Road. The IVA thanked Assemblywoman Donna Ferrara, Senator Carl Marcellino, Brookville Mayor Dick Goodwin and his board, Nassau County Legislator Ed Mangano, Old Westbury Mayor Sydelle Weinstein and her board, former Old Westbury Mayor Ellie Simpson, CW Post Provost Joe Shenker, Jericho Superintendent Henry Grishman and board, and Regional Director of the State DOT Craig Siracusa.
"Route 107 has been the scene of painful community tragedies and we believe this new traffic signal and new road improvements have the potential to save lives," said Kobak.
Mary Marks contributed to this story.