| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

The John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) hosted a Benefit Night this past week, bringing out stars of the tennis world for exhibition matches raising money for the Academy.

In front of a packed crowd at Sportime Randall’s Island, 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal took on all-time great Lleyton Hewitt in the headline match, and the match did not disappoint.

Despite it being an exhibition, Nadal and Hewitt displayed some competitive and sparkling tennis on the beautiful summer night. John McEnroe served as the chair umpire, which brought some laughter from the crowd, as Johnny Mac is known to argue with the umpire when he plays.

The match was played in an eight-game pro-set format. After Hewitt forced the match into a tie-breaker, much to the delight of the fans, Nadal hung on to beat the Aussie 8-7.

The second match of the evening featured Australia’s rising star Nick Kyrgios and McEnroe taking on the duo of Patrick McEnroe & Jonas Bjorkman. This match saw a ton of rallies and volleys and some big serves from the hard-hitting Kyrgios.

In the end, it was the tandem of Kyrgios & John McEnroe edged Patrick McEnroe & Bjorkman 6-4.

While the tennis on the court was a treat, the purpose of the night was to raise money for junior development at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy. It is something that John McEnroe himself as put a lot of emphasis on in bringing a tennis buzz back to New York.

Junior development is a big part of Nadal’s life as well, as the Mallorca, Spain native is building a tennis academy in his hometown.

“We are in the last process of building a national academy in Mallorca, an academy with everything a kid needs to try and become a professional tennis player,” said Nadal. “It will have a school inside as well. For me, the sport is my passion, and tennis is what I’ve been doing for 25 years. I want to keep being involved in the sport and in building the academy, I am trying to give something back to the kids.”

Credit all photos to Shena Faith & Lee Seidner