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USTA Eastern Honors

Sunny Fishkind is surrounded by members of her family
February 6, 2019 01:37 PM
Adrian Chirici (center) surrounded by his family and at left, Jenny Schnitzer (USTA Eastern Executive Director), at right, Amber Marino (USTA Eastern President) and Jonathan Klee (USTA Long Island Region President)
from left: Kathy Miller Carefree manager, Valerie Rifkin and Lori Jenis
From left, Neil Thakur, USTA Eastern Tennis Service Representative Long Island, and Jason Wass
from left, Amber Marino (USTA Eastern President), Jenny Schnitzer (USTA Eastern Executive Director), Terri Arnold-McKenzie, and Jonathan Klee, USTA Long Island President

The USTA Eastern Section honored several Long Islanders at its annual Eastern Conference and Awards Dinner. Receiving awards were Sunny Fishkind, Jason Wass, Adrian Chirici, Brian Coleman, Terri Arnold-McKenzie and Carefree Racquet Club.

Tennis Woman of the Year: Sunny Fishkind

Sunny Fishkind, longtime Bethpage High School Varsity tennis coach, was named Eastern Tennis Woman of the Year. According to USTA Eastern “Sunny’s contributions have elevated tennis participation on Long Island to great heights.” For more than 40 years, Sunny has enjoyed a tennis instruction career that is still going strong. In addition to serving as the girls’ varsity coach at Bethpage High from 1979-2005, she also coached the school’s boys’ varsity team from 1979-1990. Her efforts leading both squads earned her recognition as the USTA Eastern High School Coach of the Year. She has served as a coach, coordinator of girls’ tennis for all Nassau County high schools and, since 1986, has been the director of a tennis camp at Hofstra University. Sunny also served as coordinator of girls’ tennis for all Nassau County high schools from 1993-2004. She coached the Nassau County team at the New York State High School Tournament, sat on the state girls’ tennis committee, created the Nassau County Girls’ Tennis Handbook and scheduled all matches for the county’s schools. She has taught tennis at Long Island University and was assistant tennis coach at Hofstra University. Her enthusiasm for teaching and the sport itself is boundless as Sunny introduced tennis to more than 700 kids this past summer alone. Sunny has served on the USTA Long Island Regional Board as a volunteer for many years, currently as Vice President and Facebook Manager.

According to USTA Eastern, “We are truly indebted to Sunny Fishkind for dedicating her life to the sport and for introducing thousands of children to the game over decades.”

10 and Under Tennis Award: Jason Wass  

“Jason Wass is undeniably the human beacon of 10 & Under Tennis on Long Island,” according to USTA Eastern. The Director of Tennis & Sports at Sportime Kings Park, Jason is also a USPTA Elite Tennis Professional with certifications in 10 & Under and High-Performance Tennis. He has helped run the 10 & Under programs for Sportime, LI Kids’ Days, school programs and Net Generation programming for years. Jason’s strengths lie in working with players in developmental stages of the game, building a player’s technique and strategy from the ground up. His versatility as a tennis coach is demonstrated by his list of students, ranging from total beginner to nationally ranked. In 2010, Jason was named the USTA Long Island Tennis Professional of the Year. At Sportime, he has established one of the most dynamic and successful internal U10 Competitive Circuits with over 200 children competing at each event. Under his leadership, the Sportime World Tour has quickly become one of the models to which all clubs to aspire.

George Seewagen Award: Adrian Chirici

The George Seewagen Award, which recognizes a USTA Eastern teaching professional who exemplifies excellence in competition, sportsmanship and love of the game, was presented to Adrian Chirici. Adrian is Head Tennis Pro at Robbie Wagner’s Tournament Training Center in Glenwood Landing. He was a four-year letter winner for the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, where, during his career a Knight, Adrian was able to break through in the “Flight A” division and win back-to-back NEC titles in 1989 and 1990; the Knights won the conference three times during his tenure.  A consummate student-athlete, Adrian was a two-time NEC Scholar Athletic Award recipient. He has taught many of the top juniors in the East, who then obtained college tennis scholarships. This past year alone, he has taught Patrick Maloney, NY State High School Champion, and Merrie Kelly, a top National junior player. In addition to a stellar teaching career, Adrian has played Eastern tournaments and USTA League matches. He is a two-time USTA Coach of the Year.

Press Service Award: Brian Coleman

Press Service Award recipient Brian Coleman has been covering local tennis in the Eastern Section for the last five years. He graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Journalism and soon became the Senior Editor for Long Island and New York Tennis Magazines. Brian covers all things tennis from juniors to adults, from high school players all the way to the pros. In his time at LI and NY Tennis Magazines, Brian has covered hundreds of events including many Eastern events like the College Showcase and the annual Eastern Conference, in addition to covering the New York Empire of World Team Tennis, the New York Open and the U.S. Open. He has been integral in helping create and put on the New York Tennis Expo and the magazine's annual Summer Series, which showcases different tennis events on Long Island and in New York City.

“His coverage has helped bring exposure to so many different members and organizations of the Eastern Section and has shined a light on all the accomplishments and hard work of our tennis community,” according to USTA Eastern.

Long Island Region Volunteer of the Year: Terri Arnold-McKenzie

Terri Arnold-McKenzie runs the Alliance Tennis Foundation, which brings tennis to minority communities, while volunteering as the Secretary of the Long Island Regional Board, a role she has held for the past two years. She has managed the annual Multicultural Grant process for eight different grant opportunities; resulting in over 150 diverse, high-performance junior tennis players and organizations receiving funding opportunities for training and development. She also has orchestrated the inaugural Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Summer Internship Program, partnering talented diverse students from across the country with defined business units, actively engaged in furthering the mission of the USTA.

Corporate Service Award: Carefree Racquet Club

Carefree Racquet Club is one of the top indoor tennis clubs in Nassau County, currently hosting more than 30 USTA adult teams and six USTA Junior Team Tennis teams out of its Merrick facility. Carefree continues to grow tennis participation and promote the USTA pathway, greatly contributing to a sustainable and growing tennis participation within their community. It offers 12 local adult leagues, a substantial junior development program and, for the past 20 years, an impressive junior learning partnership collaboration with the North Merrick Police Athletic League. Carefree utilizes all seven courts for this activity, servicing more than 150 kids with this affordable program.

Perhaps what really sets Carefree apart from other tennis clubs is its dedication and proven commitment to support its local community, non-profit organizations and charities through donations of time, space and services. Most notably, Carefree was extremely fortunate to retain electricity after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy while most of the surrounding community lost power. The club opened its doors to its neighbors so people could come in and shower, charge their phones and watch the news while enjoying free bagels and coffee. In early 2018, Carefree and its newly formed CTA, Tennis For All, created an innovative ongoing charitable initiative called ‘Community Tennis Days,’ a program that introduces children to the game of tennis and raises money for local charities by holding junior development clinics during the Bellmore-Merrick school breaks. Carefree and Tennis for All also partner with the Bellmore/Merrick School District on the Bellmore-Merrick Community Cupboard, a school-community partnership program that provides food to families in the community who are in crisis and are hungry.