They say New York is a melting pot. When you are here, you will be surrounded by various types of people and different cultures, all of which merge to create one of the most diverse cities in the world.
If you head east from NYC and towards the Hamptons, you will find a tennis academy that embodies those same qualities: The Ross School Tennis Academy (RSTA).
Tucked away in East Hampton, the Tennis Academy at Ross School is one of the most unique academies in the world. With its full academic program, combined with a complete physical and mental conditioning program, the environment in which RSTA’s players train in is a well-rounded one.
The combination of the high-performance tennis program and the top-notch academics makes Ross School stand out from the pack, but it is also the mix of international flavor that make up the program’s players and coaches.
“I think it is great to have different cultures here. We have coaches from Spain, the Ukraine, Italy and Brazil just to name a few,” said Vinicius Carmo, RSTA’s Tennis Director, who hails from Brazil. “It’s very diverse and it’s nice to bring together the different styles and experiences, which creates a learning environment that is beneficial to our players.”
One of the program’s top players is Vitalina Golod, who just finished her junior year and is a native of Kiev, Ukraine. Golod first came to Ross for the summer camp when she was 11-years-old, and continued to come each summer. Two years ago, she became a full-time student at the Academy and is a part of the boarding school.
International student Vitalina Golod from Kiev, Ukraine is entering her senior year at Ross School Tennis Academy.
“I had a pretty tough time with a lot of things when I first moved here. My English wasn’t weak, but I still had a rough time adjusting between the Ukrainian culture and that of the United States,” said Golod. “But things got better. I became confident in myself that I was ready to live on my own, and it has been going really well. It is definitely different than my experiences in the Ukraine. All the coaches there follow the same program, but here, we have coaches from all over. It’s amazing. They all have different opinions on how to teach tennis and I love it.”
While Golod comes all the way from Eastern Europe, one of her best friends, Ally Friedman, grew up not too far from the Ross School. Freidman, who will be entering her junior year next fall, is a native of East Hampton and has been a part of RSTA for nearly four years now.
“It’s such an amazing atmosphere here,” said Friedman. “When you become close with the boarding students, they become like your family … you see each other all the time. I’ve met a lot of different people who I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to meet. I have best friends from all of these different places. It’s a cool experience and it really opens your eyes.”
In terms of the tennis coaching, Friedman says that the coaches at RSTA really make sure to establish working relationships with the players, which is one of the benefits of having a small, intimate program.
“Most of the coaches have experience working with both American and international kids, and I think they interact with us well,” Friedman said. “They have a way of getting to know the players, no matter what their past is or where they are from. They all have the same goal of wanting us to improve as tennis players, while getting college-level experience.”
The mix of backgrounds and cultures that make up the Ross School Tennis Academy is one of the aspects that make the program such an invaluable experience for its players. It is the only boarding school with a tennis program in New York, and it is looking to expand further and add more features.
“We feel we are one of the only schools to offer good academics and a top tennis academy on the same campus,” said Carmo. “And our goal is to try and develop players. We are starting to offer scholarships. In the past, we only offered financial aid, but we are now adding scholarships for highly-ranked players.”
Carmo said that Ross School Tennis Academy is also trying to host more top-level USTA tournaments at the facility in its effort to continue growing the Academy. In recent months, it has hosted some progression-level junior tournaments, but hopes to expand and be granted Super Six and National tournaments.
Plantation, Fla.’s Natalie Block, the highest ranked girl in the USTA Florida Girls 14s Division, attends RSTA for a summer training session.
As one would expect, the summer months are when the Ross School courts really heat up. Top juniors from across the country and internationally are able to train there when they are in the Hamptons, and a six-week boarding program is available during the summer as well.
There are a number of things that make the Ross School Tennis Academy a top-flight destination for junior tennis players. But perhaps the most intriguing part of the Academy is its diverse group of players and coaches who all bring their own background and culture into the fold, creating a unique environment for its students and players to grow in.
“It’s the combination of having an excellent college-prep academic environment with a diverse group of international students who are given a personalized approach in a group setting,” said Holly Li, Manager of the Ross School Tennis Academy “It not only makes us unique, but allows each player to achieve their own individual success.”
RSTA Tennis Director Vinicius Carmo (center) accepts the Tennis Club of the Year Award at the recent USTA Eastern LI Region 28th Annual Awards Dinner from tennis greats Emilio Sanchez, Liezel Huber, USTA Eastern Executive Director and COO Jenny Schnitzer, and USTA Eastern Long Island Region President Jonathan Klee.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org