| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

In September of 2010, John McEnroe opened the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) in New York City at the Sportime Randall's Island Tennis Center in Manhattan. Sportime Randall's Island is the flagship location for the Academy and for Sportime's 13 clubs. The John McEnroe Tennis Academy was established to develop world-class players by exciting the local tennis scene in New York, especially kids, about the game of tennis. Another major purpose of the JMTA is to provide opportunities to motivated and deserving young players, who would not
otherwise have the resources, to reach their full potential as players and/or scholar-athletes. John's passion and belief is that great players can be developed in urban settings, while still having the opportunity to live at home, pursue their educational goals, and participate in a variety of sports and extracurricular activities. Through community outreach, JMTA works to recruit the most talented and motivated young athletes in the Greater New York Metropolitan area and beyond.

Starting in September 2012, JMTA will expand its geographic reach to Long Island with the opening of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in Bethpage, N.Y., centrally located on Long Island and featuring a six-court indoor facility that has long-served as Sportime’s high-performance training center. Another JMTA location, Sportime Lake Isle, an eight-court outdoor club that Sportime recently spent $5 million re-building into a state-of-the art year-round facility in Eastchester, New York in lower Westchester is set to open in September as well. Long Island Tennis Magazine recently had a chance to sit down with Claude Okin, Sportime CEO; Eric Fromm, managing director of Long Island and Westchester and chief revenue officer for Sportime; Lawrence Kleger, executive director of tennis at Sportime; Mark McEnroe, chief corporate development officer of Sportime; and Mike Kossoff, Sportime’s regional director of tennis to discuss this newest endeavor and what the JMTA hopes to bring to the Long Island tennis community.

What opportunities does JMTA provide to local kids/players?
JMTA will provide a world-class academy setting without asking a young player to leave his/her family or local school system. It will provide the opportunity to interact with by arguably the greatest competitor in the history of our sport, New York’s own John McEnroe. John has chosen, and will lead, a team of world-class directors, assistant directors and coaches, both at the new JMTA annex sites, and at the JMTA flagship Randall’s Island site. It will make scholarship money available to JMTA players who show promise and who have need.

When are the new JMTA facilities opening for instruction?
The first week in September, 2012, JMTA programs will commence at Sportime Bethpage and at Lake Isle in Westchester, N.Y. JMTA programs will take place seven days a week, from 4:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and from noon-4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. There will also be private coaching sessions for JMTA students around those hours, in addition to off-court training and JMTA coaching at most local and National USTA tournaments.

When will you start accepting applications?                                                                                                        Applications are available online now and can be downloaded at www.sportimeny.com. For additional information or personal assistance, contact Mike Kossoff, director of JMTA programs at Bethpage, by e-mail at mkossoff@sportimeny.com.

What will make the JMTA stand out from other facilities on Long Island?
Longtime Sportime Director of Tennis Lawrence Kleger, who was recently selected by Johnny Mac as the director of JMTA, created an elite program at Sportime Bethpage that is already one of the nation’s best, but with the transition to the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, we are taking it to a whole new level. Not only will we have an enhanced and diversified teaching and coaching staff, but we are also going to be inspired by John’s vision and passion, which will make each player’s experience that much stronger. John mandates that his programs have a
maximum 4:1 player to coach ratio; this means more time playing and hitting. John also believes in an overall schedule philosophy that mixes group training and private lessons. He requires all JMTA players to play in at least two group sessions per week, but most JMTA players have the desire to play in more. Each JMTA player will receive a “player package” that includes a Grand Slam style JMTA player credential, a Dartfish video technology stroke analysis and Nike JMTA gear. The JMTA is the real deal for serious junior players.

The McEnroe Academy differs from many academies around the world in that it is non-residential. What are the positives of that?
John became the world’s number one player training with Harry Hopman and Tony Palafox right here on Long Island, and more world-class American players were created at that time on Long Island than in any other time in history. John’s goal is to translate his experience for today’s young players. It has been well-documented that residential academies do not work for many young people. John's belief is that great players can be developed in urban settings, while still having the opportunity to live at home, pursue their educational goals, and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities. John thinks that New York-based players can be the best in the world, and we think that Mac possesses the ability to make good players better and to make very good players great!

Are there any amenities that are being added to Sportime Bethpage in preparation for the arrival of the JMTA?
A major renovation of the facility is being done in time for the JMTA launch. This will include: An upgraded and expanded lobby area with additional viewing; the addition of court-side viewing for the “back courts;” new junior computer/homework lounge; new locker rooms; new functional training and fitness room for 1:1 and small group training

Who will be coaching at the JMTA Bethpage location?
Lawrence Kleger will be joined by Mike Kossoff, regional director of tennis for Sportime Bethpage and Syosset, and the new director of tennis for JMTA Bethpage; and Jay Harris, Bethpage’s regional manager and former head men’s tennis coach at Brown University, will be joined by world-renowned assistant directors from JMTA at Randall’s Island’s, to direct the JMTA programs at Bethpage. These directors, along with a mix of the top coaches already working with our elite players at Bethpage, and some of John’s best pros from Randall’s Island, will all be supporting our new JMTA program at Bethpage. This is a staff, the quality and diversity of which other top academies in the country would be truly envious.

What level of player are you looking for?
Only serious-minded and accomplished juniors will be getting invitations and/or acceptances to join the JMTA, so the level of play and effort will be unlike anything else in our region. That does not mean you have to already be a nationally-ranked player. Developmental JMTA will provide a pathway to train like a world-class player and to work towards admission to the highest level JMTA sessions and coaching.

How often will John be visiting/coaching in Bethpage?
John expects to be at the JMTA annexes about once a month, and to schedule those visits so he gets to see all JMTA participants over the course of each JMTA session. JMTA players who directors and coaches feel would benefit from more 1:1 time with John, will be invited to train at Randall’s Island one or more days a week, in addition to at their home JMTA sites.

What are the main teaching points of the JMTA and what would be the mission statement of the Academy?
The mission of JMTA is to develop world-class players from the greater New York area and to excite New Yorkers, especially kids about the great and life-changing game of tennis. The JMTA will develop sound technical players, who are prepared to compete well on all surfaces, with a special focus on the tactical and strategic aspects of the game. John always explains how tennis is a problem-solving game, and that he played chess growing up and brought that sensibility to his construction of points. JMTA students will not just learn how to strike balls, but will learn how to play the game of tennis, how to construct points and how to win matches.

Who are players at the JMTA that have produced the best results so far?
We have had an excellent year of tournament results at JMTA. Noah Rubin (age 16) played his first ITF tournament in October, made it to the finals, and is now the 17th-ranked junior in the world. He will be a threat at the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open junior events, where he will be a main draw player. Jamie Loeb just won the singles and doubles title at the ITF in Delray Beach, Fla. Jamie (age 17) also accomplished the same feat at the G18 Winter Nationals in Arizona. Jessica Golovin (age 14) reached the semis of the G16 Easter Bowl and has had great results on the G18 ITF Circuit over the last six weeks. At the last Sectional Closed, of the eight tournament winners, four of them were JMTA students. We are also very proud of our first JMTA Graduating Class. Our top B18s will be attending and competing for the following schools: Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Columbia University, Amherst College, University of Virginia, Wake Forest University, Tufts University, Washington University-St. Louis and Michigan State University.