| By Caroline Gilpin

Now that he isn’t in the car for six hours, four days a week on a round trip from his home in Ventnor, N.J. to the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) at Sportime Randall’s Island, Shane Monroe can spend more time actually playing tennis. The extra training time with JMTA coaches is paying off. The high school sophomore, who now lives weekdays in New York City, was recently ranked number one in USTA Middle States Boys 16 & Under, and is currently ranked number two in the 18 & Under. Shane is also listed as 15th in the national college rankings for his grade at TennisRecruiting.net.

“Shane Monroe is one of the fastest improving kids in the Academy,” said John McEnroe Tennis Academy Director of Tennis Gilad Bloom. “We re-constructed his game in the last year and a half, and as a result, he became very solid from the baseline and added a first serve to his game. He got in good shape and had some good solid results in recent months, including winning six matches in the Orange Bowl. He is a hard working kid.”
Shane finished the 16th round at the Orange Bowl in December and was the last American boy to be eliminated, his father Cary said.

Officials at the JMTA helped find a host family for Shane this year to eliminate the rugged commute. JTMA members Jason Kaplan and wife Nola Bonis, parents of tennis players Zachary and Anna Maite, offered to have the high schooler stay with their family at their home in New York City.

Shane’s dad said he and his wife Vicki and Shane’s brother Matthew miss him, but are grateful to the Kaplans and to JMTA for helping Shane get to a new level of tennis.

“The Kaplans have been so gracious,” said Cary Monroe. “They offered to have him stay with them during the week and it means I can go back to work. I pick him up and bring him home on weekends when he isn’t competing.”

Shane takes buses and a subway to the Academy each weekday morning, and works on his online Laurel Hill Springs School lessons when he isn’t playing tennis or competing in tournaments.

Both Monroes say that improved fitness has been key to Shane’s improved tennis. Shane, who started playing at age four but didn’t become serious about tennis until the age of 12, lost in the semifinals of the New Jersey State Championship last year, and lack of top conditioning was to blame.

“That wouldn’t be the case now,” Cary said. “The coaching at JMTA is the best in the country. They are probably all over-qualified. Every one of them has contributed to Shane’s success.”

Shane said, “I am working hard on my upper body. [JMTA director of performance] Sophie Scott has worked hard with me to improve my fitness.”

JMTA Assistant Director of Tennis Felix Alvarado said, “Shane is a terrific player. His ground strokes and fitness have improved amazingly since joining JMTA. He is a great competitor with a bright future ahead.”

How does the South Jersey native like living in New York City?

“I haven’t even had time to walk around the block,” Shane said. “I’d rather be playing tennis.”

John McEnroe Tennis Academy
In 2010, New York City tennis legend John McEnroe launched the John McEnroe Tennis Academy at the state-of-the-art, $18 million SPORTIME Randall's Island Tennis Center in Manhattan. The director of tennis at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy is Gilad Bloom, a former Israeli Davis Cup and ATP player (high ranking of number 60 in the world in singles and doubles). Fritz Buehning, another former top-ranked ATP Player (21st in singles and fourth in doubles) is an assistant Academy director, as are former NCAA and pro players, Bruce Haddad and Harel Srugo, and former Moroccan Davis Cup coach Karim Balagh. Gilad and the assistant Academy directors and the world-renowned JMTA pros have worked with Johnny Mac to develop a training program that enables serious junior players to make the most of their abilities, while encouraging them to live at home and pursue their academic and athletic goals and live balanced, healthy lives.