Just as the Seawolves are settling into their dorms, the best tennis players in the world are gathering at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens for the US Open.
Right in Stony Brook’s backyard, the stars of the game, like Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, are fighting for prize money, media spotlight and attention. For the first and only time of the season, the Seawolves tennis teams are not the ones under the pressure, but enjoying it.
Just as many dream to become a professional baseball player when they grow up, the U.S. Open provides a goal. Arthur Ashe Stadium is the largest tennis venue in the world, and a place current Seawolf tennis players would not mind ending up after their college career.
Member of the Girls Varsity team and former U.S. Open ballperson, sophomore Becky Shtilkind saw the desire of the best players in the world, which she felt her team could use to make the conference champion Seawolves even better.
“While being on court with the pros, I was able to see up close not only their game, but also their fire,” Shtilkind said. “Being so up close and personal with the players really pushes me to motivate my teammates to strive for success.”
Even club players use the Open as a motivational tool to push themselves to the next level, and possibly a walk on tryout with the Division One team.
“The US Open helped me motivate myself to improve my tennis game,” sophomore Kyle Chung said. “Just watching the pros hitting helps me analyze their game and play style.”
Junior Stefan Ilic, a student who has trained at the home of the Open in the past, is no stranger to the greatness that comes from across the globe at the end of every summer.
“I enjoy watching the players hit every ball because it gives me hope that one day I can play at that level,” he said.
As recent Stanford graduate Bradley Klahn can attest, NCAA players are more than able to make it at the professional level, winning his first round match at the Open.
For any tennis enthusiasts, Seawolves supporters or people looking for something to do on campus, quickly coming up are the opening tournaments for the boys and girls varsity teams. Both being held on campus, the Stony Brook Invitational will be held starting Sept. 6 for the boys and Sept. 13 for the girls. A quick sidestep from Lavalle Stadium is where two conference winning runs will begin.