(May 22, 2013) A standout player at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD, 13-year-old Pasquale Procaccino is looking to make a difference in the tennis community. As he likes to say, “playing tennis, hitting the ball, sharing with others is lots of fun and is great for helping focus on all parts of life.”
And one of Pasquale’s goals is to share that fun with kids of all ages and backgrounds. So when – as part of the Junior Tennis Champions Center outreach program called “Game On” – he found himself teaching his peers tennis on courts that were cracked, full of weeds and covered with trash, he decided to act.
Pasquale has organized a fundraiser on Friday evening, May 24th, 2013 at the Royal Restaurant in Old Town Alexandria (734 N St. Asaph St, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-1616) to help fund expanding the “Game On” program to more locations in the greater Washington, DC area, and then eventually to repair and resurface those courts that first motivated him to act.
The owners of the restaurant said they will contribute a portion of dinner sales from other diners that evening not related to the fundraiser to help the cause.
“It seemed like such a good experience for them,” Pasquale said of his time with his peers. “If they could plan on nicer courts, enjoy nicer equipment, they could enjoy it much more.”
The Junior Tennis Champions Center inspires kids to become champions on and off the court with the “Game On” outreach program, which teaches tennis to inner city children ages 5 – 12. Tennis is more than just life itself, it is life. The discipline, commitment, focus, and desire we need to become successful in life mirrors the skills you must have to become a successful on the courts.
The JTTC is located at the Tennis Center at College Park, Md., a USTA Regional Training Center. It is also the home of the University of Maryland tennis teams. The award-winning facility is recognized as one of the most comprehensive tennis venues in the United States.
Pasquale has been training at the TCCP in the Champs program after school for 3 years and regularly competes in Mid-Atlantic junior tournaments. He attends Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Alexandria and will graduate from the 8th grade this spring. He will attend TCCP full time next year and plans to enter T.C. Williams High School in the fall of 2014. In addition to his strong commitment to tennis, Pasquale is an avid piano player, participating in festivals and competitions several times a year.
By Kelyn Soong
Denis Kudla may not be a household name in tennis, but he has made significant strides in his three years on the pro tour.
At only 19 years old, Kudla is third youngest player in the top 200 of ATP World Tour rankings.
He is currently ranked world No. 177 and has a career high of No. 168.
This year, Kudla played in his first Grand Slam main draw match in Australia (losing in four sets to Tommy Haas), was one game away from beating Andy Roddick in the second round at the SAP Open and got the opportunity to play one of his idols, Roger Federer, in the second round at Indian Wells.
“My professional career so far has been pretty successful,” Kudla said. “I got through the rankings pretty quick…As long as I keep improving, I’m pretty happy with everything.”
Kudla has wanted to a professional tennis player for as long as he could remember, and he has enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle that comes with the profession.
“Life on tour is pretty good, it’s a different lifestyle,” Kudla said. “You’re traveling every single week – I don’t think I’ve been in the same place for more than 10 days. It’s tough, but I enjoy it. You’re in a different hotel every week, you get to travel the world, new food – it’s the lifestyle I chose.”
After all the traveling, Kudla had time to return to the Washington, D.C. area for a few weeks after his failed bid to reach the Wimbledon main draw.
The Arlington, Va. native practiced and trained with his old coaches and hitting partners at the Tennis Center in College Park in preparation for his next tournament in Newport, RI, which starts July 9.
The tournament holds a special place for Kudla, who recorded his first ATP World Tour win there just a year ago.
As for his future goals, Kudla is setting his sights for a big year.
“In this time next year I want to be potentially top 50,” he said. “I don’t want to give myself too many ranking goals now – I realize that’s maybe not the best way to look at yourself and improving. I just want to be keep being successful, try to make a run at an ATP title and keep improving, and I think everything will come along.”