An eager crowd of parents and their children looked up in awe as the man of the hour walked through the door.
“He’s here!” the impressionable kids, many with tennis rackets and Sharpies, shouted as they stared at the 6-10 figure they aspire to play like.
Professional tennis player John Isner visited Christopher Morley Tennis in Roslyn on Thursday to promote the first New York Open. The tournament, formerly the Memphis Open for the last 40 years, will be held at Nassau Coliseum in February.
“The new, renovated Coliseum, I hear it’s amazing,” Isner said. “I’ve seen pictures. Of course I’ve never been in it yet, so I’m looking forward to playing in the Coliseum.”
“I know it’s got a lot of history, so it’s going to be very cool,” he added. “It’s the first-ever tennis event here, so for me, personally, it’s a very good opportunity. I’m looking forward to the tournament. The competition is going to be so tough, with some world-class tennis players, so it’s going to be a great week of tennis. I think everyone that’s participating in this event, everyone that is involved in this event, is just looking forward to it.”
Isner made an appearance at each indoor court, greeting those in the middle of tennis lessons, before a more casual photo opportunity and autograph session.
“It’s very inspirational for them,” said Peter Lebedevs, assistant tournament director. “They get to see and hear from one of the best players we’ve had in the United States for the last few years. And also from the idea of the college tennis aspect. He has that Georgia connection and them hearing that going to college is a great way to get to pros as well.”
The New York Open, an ATP World Tour 250 Series event and one of 10 United States men’s professional tournaments on the ATP World Tour, will be held Feb. 11-18. Isner is ranked No. 14 in men’s singles by the ATP.
“Having someone with the caliber of John here is really good for the club, it’s really good for tennis and it’s really good for Long Island,” said Seema Imberman, Christopher Morley Tennis managing director.