West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y. hosted the Nestlé Nesquik “Little Mo” International Open, a tennis tournament for boys and girls ages eight through 12 which is part of a series of events put on throughout the U.S. by the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. In 1953, Maureen Connolly became the first woman, and only American to achieve the Grand Slam in tennis, winning all four major championships in one calendar year at the age of 18. This feat secured her place in tennis history, and from that point forward, she was known as the incomparable “Little Mo.” After her retirement from the game the following year due to a horseback riding accident, she dedicated her life to promoting the sport she loved, eventually founding the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. The Foundation sponsors events including the Little Mo international open, Little Mo Nationwide circuit, Mini Mo tournament, as well as international competitions including the MCB cup and Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy where American girls face off against Australia and Great Britain respectively.
“Nestlé Nesquik is the perfect partner for our tournament," said Carol Weyman, executive vice president of the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. “As a beloved brand that has been a part of childhood and beyond for years, it is the perfect product to be paired with Little Mo.”
The players arrived on Aug. 19 for a tour of the grounds and the first couple of hours were spent practicing on the clay courts. After observing the grandeur of the former site of the U.S. Open, the boys and girls gathered on the famous grass courts in front of the West Side clubhouse for the opening ceremonies where all rules of play for the tournament were announced for the players and their parents. Staying in the custom of West Side Tennis club, players were dressed in “all white” tennis gear for the ceremony. The pinnacle of excitement on opening day unfolded as a procession led by Quiky, the Nestlé Nesquik bunny, headed from the grass courts to the stadium court where the eager fans waited to see the spectacle. Each player held a flag representing their country of origin, and after arriving and encircling the court a few times, the players were introduced by name and hometown.
With more than 200 players signed up to compete, this is one of the largest junior tournaments that most of the players have participated in. The main singles tournament format is a 32-person draw with first match loser consolation bracket in each of the five age divisions for boys and girls, as well as 16-team doubles tournament in each of the age groups.
For many players, Aug. 23 was surely the highlight of the week, regardless of whether they made it into the finals that morning. Sponsored Nestlé Nesquik athletes and Olympic Gold Medalists Bob & Mike Bryan hosted a clinic for all “Little Mo” players at The West Side Tennis Club. Following the clinic, the Bryans faced off in an exhibition match against former “Little Mo” champion, Christian Harrison and former number one doubles player, Max Miryni, on the historic stadium court. Along with the Bryan Brothers and the Men’s Doubles Gold Medal won at the London Games in July, Miryni had also just won gold at the Olympics as part of the Belarus mixed-doubles team and they entertained the hundreds of visitors, along with the tournament juniors and their families who watched the exhibition in the historic home of the U.S. Open, Stadium Court at the West Side Tennis Club. Congratulations to the following winners in their respective divisions:
►Boys 8 Division Nishesh Basavareddy of Irvine, Calif.
►Boys 9 Division Benjamin Kittay of Potomac, Md.
►Boys 10 Division Jameson Corsillo of Boca Raton, Fla.
►Boys 11 Division Sebastian Rodriguez-Sanchez of Trujillo, Peru
►Boys 12 Division Tristan Boyer of Altadena, Calif.
►Girls 8 Division Cory Gauff of Atlanta, Ga.
►Girls 9 Division Anna Babayan of Bradenton, Fla.
►Girls 10 Division Gianna Pielet of Greenville, S.C.
►Girls 11 Division Alexa Goetz of Greenlawn, N.Y.
►Girls 12 Division Katherine Kachkarov of Flushing, N.Y.
►Sportsmanship Award Recipients David Mamalat and Gianna Pielet
Credit photos to Adam Wolfthal
Quik the Rabbit hanging out with the players before the Opening Ceremony
Players gathered on the famed grass courts of The West Side Tennis Club
Players lined up for the procession to the Stadium Court
Led by Quik the Rabbit, the Players parade through the famed Stadium Court to open the 2012 “Little Mo” International Open
Players held flags representing their home country
Credit photos to David Kenas Photography
Mike Bryan shows the “Little Mo” International Open participants his technique
A participant learning from Olympic Gold Medal winner Mike Bryan