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JMTA and SPORTIME Director of Tennis Lawrence Kleger Discusses Rubin Wimbledon Victory, Recent JMTA Success

JMTA and SPORTIME Director of Tennis Lawrence Kleger took a few minutes from a whirlwind past few days to discuss Noah Rubin’s resounding Wimbledon Juniors title and the continued success that JMTA has experienced.

JMTA Blog: It has been a pretty remarkable spring at JMTA, between the success of some of the kids at elite tournaments, Jamie Loeb at North Carolina and now Noah’s breakthrough, what is the secret to the way the Academy is going?

Lawrence Kleger: I believe that there are no secrets in running a successful academy. It’s about dedication and hard work. Our coaching staff at JMTA is world-class, and they put in long hours and are willing to do whatever it takes to elevate our students to the next level. But if there is one area where I believe we excel it would be the positive way we challenge and motivate our athletes.  We hold our students to a very high standard of attitude and effort, but we do so in an encouraging way that brings out the best in each and every player. Our Student Code of Conduct and our carefully designed curriculums provide the framework and structure for our academy’s success.  And we have what no other academy has—John McEnroe—arguably the greatest competitor in the history of tennis.

JMTAB: Some people see Noah’s win as surprising, were you surprised and why or why not? 

LK: To be honest, nothing that Noah accomplishes surprises me. He has won at every level including the ITF Professional Futures circuit. So while Noah winning the Wimbledon Junior Championship was a thrill, it was not a shock. That is why I am so convinced that he will be successful on the ATP Tour in the very near future. However, to be honest, I did not think that grass was Noah’s best surface. I will now have to reconsider that assessment!

JMTAB:You have always talked about the value of college; what did a year in college now mean to Jamie as a tennis player and what could it mean to Noah?

LK: I think her coach at JMTA Felix Alvarado would agree that Jamie had a spectacular Freshman year at the University of North Carolina. Aside from being on her own and gaining the maturity one gains from the college experience, Jamie was able to improve her strength, fitness, and her play under pressure. Jamie was a highly touted freshman and was the team’s best player. That came with built in pressure. Every time Jamie walked on the court, her team was counting on her to win. I think that is the kind of pressure I would like Noah to be under. And of course I would like him to have a great college experience like Jamie’s. Being away from home, being independent, and being a mature, self-sufficient adult.

JMTAB: American tennis has taken some hits recently; were you surprised at the run of several boys in the juniors at Wimbledon and what will it take to sustain such play at the professional level down the line? 

LK: Obviously it was a great showing by the American juniors and hopefully we can sustain it. I know Patrick McEnroe is working very hard to see that it happens. I believe that the more the USTA and private academies and private coaches work together, the better the chances of seeing Americans regain their lost stature in the expanding world of tennis. I think that this is starting to happen and that has to be good news if we want to produce top players.

JMTAB: Who are some of the other faces we should be watching at JMTA this summer?

LK: Jessica Golovin, age 16 is already competing well at the ITF level. Sabrina Xiong, 17, should have a terrific summer at the Girls 18 Nationals. I believe Oliver Sec, 16, who has committed to UC-Santa Barbara for the fall, is ready to make a big impact on the ITF Junior Circuit in the coming months.  He is 6’2”, athletic and has really improved his physicality on the court. The JMTA’s Williams sisters, Brianna and Chelsea, have been sidelined with some minor injuries, but seem to be getting healthy; and that is bad news for whomever has to play them this summer. JMTA also has some of the best 12 and under talent in the country and we are expecting some impressive results in the younger age groups at clay courts and hard courts.

Golovin, Rozenstein, Xiong Compete At Carson, Easter Bowl

Three prominent JMTA players headed West for key U.S. junior tournaments over the past couple of weeks. Jessica Golovin and Julian Rozenstein competed at the USTA International Spring Championships event at USTA Training Center West in Carson, Calif., and the Easter Bowl at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.; Sabrina Xiong played at Easter Bowl as well.

In Carson, Golovin started strong, forging a 5-0 lead in the first set of her first-round match against Gabrielle Andrews, but fell in three sets, 6-7(6) 6-1 4-6. She teamed with Marie Norris to win a first-round doubles match in straights, 7-5, 6-4, before dropping a second-round match to eventual singles champ Catherine Cartan Bellis and Mia Horvit.

At Easter Bowl, Golovin upended the No. 6 ranked U.S. player in 18s, Chloe Oullet Pizer, 4-6 6-2 7-6(4). She then dropped a straight-set decision to ITF World #91 Jessica Ho, 6-4, 6-0. She repeated her doubles results from the previous week, ousting the #8 seeded pair in straight sets with partner Jenna Friedel before losing a straight-set second round matchup.

Julian Rozenstein had solid results in both venues, winning three qualifying rounds, two of them in straights, to reach the main draw, where he fell to Aron Hiltzik in the first round. Rozenstein and partner Jose Carvajal dropped a first-round doubles match in straight sets.

Rozenstein also qualified at Easter Bowl, winning two rounds in straight sets after a first-round bye, before drawing the tough assignment of the #5 seed and 72nd ranked ITF player in Sameer Kumar, who eliminated Rozenstein in straight sets. His doubles partner withdrew before their main draw first-round match.

Xiong entered Easter Bowl as the #9 seed but lost her three matches, falling in the first round to Abigail Desiatnikov in three sets and the singles back draw to Gabrielle Schuck. In doubles, she drew the #8 seed and fell, 8-6.

Wei, Sorokko Championships Lead JMTA Students At Super 6

JMTA Students Had a fine showing in Super 6 Tournaments held across the Eastern Section over the weekend, paced by championships by Sean Wei from the Lake Isle club at Boys 14 and Michelle Sorokko from Bethpage at Girls 14.

Some of the other highlights include an appearance in the finals of Boys 16 by Athell Bennett, a semifinal finish by Max Moadel in Boys 12, quarterfinals by Neel Raj at Boys 14. All three train at Bethpage.

On the girls side, Sabrina Xiong reached the semifinals at 18 and Brianna Williams advanced to the quarters at 16. Both are from the Randall’s Island center.

Full results below, and congratulations to all.

Girls 18 (Bayside, NY)
Sabrina Xiong (Randall’s) Semifinals
Nia Rose (Randall’s) 2 wins in Consolation
Gillian Perrotta (Randall’s) 1 Win in Consolation
Sabrina Barisano (Lake Isle)

Girls 16 (Alley Pond, NY)
Brianna Williams (Randall’s) Quarterfinals
Ashley Lessen (Bethpage) 1 Win in Consolation
Ekim Buyuk (Lake Isle) 1 Win in Consolation
Loren Haukova (Randall’s)
Esther Chikvashvilli (Bethpage)
Michele Lehat (Bethpage)
Nathalie Rodilosso (Randall’s)

Girls 14 (West Harrison, NY)
Michelle Sorokko (Bethpage) Tournament Champion!
Sasha Bekirova (Randall’s) Finalist
Georgia Ryan (Randall’s) 3 Wins in Consolation
MK Hannity (Bethpage)

Girls 12 (Bronx, NY)
Perene Wang (Randall’s) Rd of 16
Rebecca Fisch (Randall’s) 1 Win in Consolation

Boys 18 (Port Chester, NY)

Lubo Cuba (Bethpage) Rd of 16
Oliver Sec (Randall’s) Rd of 16
Felipe Osses-Konig (Randall’s) 3 Wins in Consolation

Boys 16 (New Windsor, NY)
Athell Bennet (Bethpage) Finalist
Patrick Hannity (Bethpage) Rd of 16
Aziz Rashidzada (Bethpage)

Boys 14 (Hastings on Hudson, NY)
Sean Wei (Lake Isle) Tournament Champion!
Neel Raj (Bethpage) Quarterfinals
Luke Smith (Lake Isle) Rd of 16
Lantis Wang (Randall’s) Rd of 16
Ronald Hohmann (Bethpage) 2 Wins in Consolation
Gardner Howe (Randall’s)
Shawn Jackson (Randall’s)

Boys 12 (Port Washington, NY)
Max Moadel (Bethpage) Semifinals
Oliver Worth (Bethpage) Rd of 16; 1 Win in Consolation
Kieran Foster (Lake Isle)
Wesley Zhang (Randall’s)
Harry Portnoy (Randall’s)

Xiong, Hannity Take Titles As JMTA Students Shine At Eastern Grand Prix

JMTA students continue to succeed at high-level events, earning two championships, one finalist, five semifinalists and five quarterfinalists at the Eastern Section Grand Prix held all over the section last weekend.

Titles were won by Sabrina Xiong at the Girls 18 in Mountain Lakes, N.J., and MK Hannity at Girls 12 in Alley Pond, N.Y. Xiong trains in Randall’s Island, while Hannity works out of Bethpage.

Sasha Bekirova reached the finals of the Girls 14 in Bogota, N.J., highlighting a weekend in which 39 JMTA boys and girls competed at eight events.

Full results below:

Girls 18 (Mountain Lakes, NJ)
Sabrina Xiong (Randall’s) Tournament Champion!
Christina Puccinelli (Randall’s) Quarterfinals
Nia Rose (Randall’s) Rd of 16; 3 wins in Consolation

Girls 16 (West Caldwell, NJ)
Victoria Sec (Randall’s) Rd of 16; Beat the #3 Seed
Michele Lehat (Bethpage) Main Draw
Gillian Perrotta (Randall’s) Rd of 16
Ashley Lessen (Bethpage) Main Draw
Brianna Williams (Randall’s) Main Draw

Girls 14 (Bogota, NJ)
Sasha Bekirova (Bethpage) Finalist
Michelle Sorokko (Bethpage) 3rd Place
Georgia Ryan (Randall’s) 4 wins in Consolation
Sonia Tartakovsky (Randall’s) Rd of 16
Katelyn Walker  (Randall’s) Main Draw

Girls 12 (Alley Pond, NY)
MK Hannity (Bethpage) Tournament Champion!
Perene Wang (Randall’s) Main Draw
Rebecca Fisch (Randall’s) Main Draw

Boys 18 (Roslyn, NY)
Lubo Cuba (Bethpage) Semifinals
Oliver Sec (Randall’s) Quarterfinals
Felipe Osses-Konig (Randall’s) Rd of 16; 3 wins in Consolation
Maurice Russo (Randall’s) Main Draw
Richard Rangga (Randall’s) Rd of 16

Boys 16 (Tinton Falls, NJ)
Justin Lee (Randall’s) 3rd Place
Patrick Hannity (Bethpage) Main Draw
Gardner Howe (Randall’s) Main Draw
Jake Bhangdia (Lake Isle) Main Draw
Alan Delman (Bethpage) Rd of 16
Aziz Rashidzada (Bethpage) Main Draw

Boys 14 (Roslyn, NY)
Neel Raj (Bethpage) Semifinals
Cannon Kingsley (Bethpage) Quarterfinals; 1 Win in Consolation
Ronald Hohmann (Bethpage) Quarterfinals
Sean Wei (Lake Isle) Rd of 16; 3 Wins in Consolation
Lantis Wang (Randall’s) Rd of 16; 1 Win in Consolation
Luke Smith (Lake Isle) Rd of 16

Boys 12 (Glen Cove, NY)
Noah Edelman (Randall’s) 3rd Place
Max Moadel (Bethpage) Quarterfinals
Evan Lee (Randall’s) Rd of 16; 1 Win in Consolation
Wesley Zhang (Randall’s) Rd of 16
Harry Portnoy (Randall’s) Rd of 16
Oliver Worth (Bethpage) Rd of 16