ROBERT 'BOB' KENAS
Robert "Bob" Kenas took his first photographs of junior tennis players at the 1983 Easter Bowl, which was taking place nearby while he was vacationing in Florida. The iconic junior tournament marked the beginning of what Bob affectionately calls his "obsessive hobby" chronicling tennis through his photography.
"No one else was taking pictures at the Easter Bowl and the founder of the tournament, Seena Hamilton, noticed me," said Bob. "She asked to see my photos, thought they were good and then sent me immediately to World Tennis magazine. Before I knew it, the photos were getting published."
Growing up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, Bob Kenas was an accomplished athlete in his own rite, playing football, basketball, and baseball for Riverdale Country School and went on to play varsity baseball and basketball while attending Hobart College. Bob started playing tennis when he moved to the New Jersey suburb of Matawan in the 1970s. "My wife Barbara and I were bombarded with the early morning sound of rackets striking tennis balls since our home backed up to Strathmore Swim and Tennis Club," said Bob. "Once we started playing, we were hooked."
Bob and Barbara, who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on June 1, shared their newfound love of the sport with their children, Jennifer, Jamie and David, and taught all three how to play. "They were very little kids when we first took them to a court, said Kenas. "Daddy and Mommy were playing so they wanted to be a part of it." Before long, the kids got more serious with their play and Kenas weekends were often spent driving the kids to their tournaments. The family even moved to a house with a tennis court.
Jennifer and Jamie both played varsity tennis for Matawan High School; Jennifer still holds the high school player record for matches won and went on to captain the Cornell University women's tennis team, playing #1 singles there for two years. Bob's youngest, David, was a first team All-State player and won the New Jersey State High School championship, mainly serving underhanded due to problems with his right shoulder. David played and captained the men's tennis at William & Mary College, playing with his dominant right arm and serving with his left for three years. Bob took pictures of his children's tournament play but his "hobby" as a photographer had become more involved during David's time.
"I didn't watch' well in the juniors and didn't want to be one of those parents with a worried face," said Kenas. "Hiding behind a camera kept me occupied, and more importantly, prevented me from sitting there shaking my head at a lost point. I always ended up taking tons of pictures, most of which were not of David!" Bob's photography took on a life of its own. While David was playing in the Eastern Tennis Association's (ETA) junior tournaments and eventually national tournaments, Bob found a niche in photographing junior tennis. His junior photographs appeared regularly in Easter Roundup, the USTA Eastern Yearbook, Eastern's Tennis Week, Tennis USA and the Atlantic Racket Press, among others.
For many years, he worked as USTA Eastern's photographer at the section's Annual Meetings and expanded his coverage to include the entire Eastern tennis scene, gaining notoriety for creating the still-treasured ETA yearbook collages that he cut and assembled by his own hand. Bob likely has the most comprehensive collection of junior tennis photographs from the '80s and *90s since no other photographers saw the need for shooting junior play at the time. As Bob's photos were published with praise and recognition, the 'pro' photographers started to enter the scene. Suffice it to say, Bob clearly paved the way for broader junior tennis coverage and eventually other sections emulated his yearbook.
As a tennis dad, Bob also had a soft-spot for the unsung heroes of these tournaments, taking photos of as many junior players as he could (regardless of achievement) as well as of parents and volunteers, whose roles were crucial at these events. "I don't think I started taking these kinds of pictures with any particular motivation other than that these were people who, like me, were obviously very involved and invested in this junior world," said Kenas. "Attending and working these tournaments was hard work and these people played a big part in making the junior tennis world go around. I felt that taking pictures of them and putting them in the collages was my way of giving many more people the feeling of being recognized, even though they weren't playing.
Bob's photographic work at the junior tournaments led to opportunities photographing tennis professionals on the tour. His and son David's images of many American tennis champions appear in the hallways and other areas in and Keas continued from page 9 around Arthur Ashe Stadium. Bob's photos have appeared in countless print and broadcast media outlets, including World Tennis, Tennis Week magazines and books, USTA Magazine, Tennis Magazine, The US OPEN Program, Tennis Industry.
Tennis Channel, CBS-TV, Newsday. and the New York Times. His work can also be seen in Pete Sampras' autobiography. With all that Bob accomplished through his photography, it was not how he made his living. Bob had a broad-spectrum management career in the communications and healthcare sectors, which included a 26-year tenure at AT&T; he retired in 2009 after 10 years at Nortel Networks.
His life continues to be centered on his family, which now includes six grandchildren, and the beginning of his tennis photography involvement is the truest testament to this. Bob's genuine love for tennis inspired his children to pursue careers in the industry. David is an accomplished events and sports photographer, who has shot all the Grand Slams for Tennis Magazine and continues to do the magazine's monthly instructional pro sequences and, from time to lime, assignments for the USTA.
David also continues to shoot the Easter Bowl in Indian Wells with Bob's assistance. His daughter Jennifer Arianas is the Executive Director of Tennis Industry Relations at Tennis Channel. The USTA Eastern family is indebted to Bob for his contributions in photographing our people, events and some of our finest moments.
David Beniamin was a man "without a plan" and claims that his successful athletic, coaching and executive career can be attributed to a series of fortunate circumstances. And at first glance this might appear to be true. But learn a bit more and it becomes abundantly clear that it was Beniamin's talent and intrinsic leadership which made him the grateful recipient of the opportunities that created the path of his career.
Benjamin was born in Greenwich Village and spent his early childhood in Flushing, Queens, not far from the future National Tennis Center site. When Benjamin was 10, his parents moved the family to Great Neck, Long Island, which is where his tennis story began. The family of a Little League pal invited him as their guest to the Great Neck Country Club, where many of the best players in the East played.
*I was a good little athlete and hated the fact that my friend was beating me, said Benjamin. *I was very fortunate because the club invited me to be an honorary free junior tennis member. Some of the adult players would occasionally hit with me, but there were three or four other good players around my age and we became good friends, practicing and competing together in Eastern junior tournaments as well as a few national events."
Benjamin established himself as a formidable and motivated junior player as well as an exemplary student. He attended and played varsity tennis for Harvard University. In 1964, during his sophomore year, Benjamin's tennis coach, Jack Barnaby, asked if he would be interested in going to Togo, West Africa in the summer: the US State Department was looking for someone to coach the national tennis teams of Togo, Nigeria, and Ghana. "I first thought he was joking and asked 'Where's Togo?" said Benjamin. "My coach thought of me because he knew I was fluent in French and that was needed for this assignment. All of the sudden, I was going to Togo to coach at the age of 19.* Beniamin ultimately captained the Harvard varsity team in his senior year to an undefeated season and the Ivy League title while graduating with high honors. But Benjamin initially did not envision a career in tennis and continued his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge University, receiving a bachelor's and master's degree in English while playing on its varsity lawn tennis team and the varsity court tennis squad, and then returned to Harvard where he attained a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization.
In the winter of 1973 Benjamin went back to West Africa on another State Department mission. His work there caught the attention of many, including Princeton University, and in the fall of 1974 at age 29, Benjamin started his 26-year coaching tenure at Princeton University, becoming the youngest member of Princeton's Athletic Department. Over the years, he guided seven teams to Ivy League titles, and finished with an overall coaching record of 339-150 (and an ivy League record of 178-44). Most notably, Benjamin's 1979 and 1980 teams were ranked in the Top 10 of the final national collegiate rankings - the only Ivy League teams ever to attain a final IT Top 10 ranking.
*I really didn't think I'd be coaching for more than a couple of years at Princeton and had no plans about tennis in the rest of my life, other than playing for fun," said Benjamin. "But I soon came to realize how much I enjoyed coaching college tennis and how much I appreciated the special and rewarding educational role of the coach with the players, on and off the court."
While coaching at Princeton, Beniamin was asked to help on projects at the newly incorporated Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). His management and leadership skills quickly became apparent and he was elected president of the ITA in 1979. After being re-elected president in 1981, Benjamin was also appointed as ITA Executive Director and he began to transform the world of varsity college tennis into an incredibly rich experience and an extensive enterprise that today includes national and regional tennis competitions, singles, doubles and team rankings, a comprehensive awards program, an annual Coaches Convention, and a robust sponsorship platform.
During his four decades of service, the ITA has expanded from an association of less than 80 NCAA Men's Division I coaches to a non-profit organization that includes more than 1,500 men's and women's varsity coaches and close to 20,000 varsity student-athletes from over 1,200 NCAA Division I, Il and I, NAIA, and junior/community colleges. As IT executive director, Benjamin also worked closely with the USTA to help establish one of its flagship programs, Tennis On Campus.
*It didn't make sense at the time that roughly 300,000 kids were playing high school tennis, but only 20,000 could play for their colleges," said Benjamin. "That left hundreds of thousands of kids having no competitive tennis opportunities when they got to college."
While teaching and coaching is at the core of who Benjamin is, it was his ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that helped to transform college tennis. "There is nothing comparable in other countries to US college tennis," said Benjamin. "Obviously, I'm very biased but I truly believe that collegiate tennis is the anchor of our sport, and I hope that all junior players see it as an essential component of their tennis and educational experience."
Nadine Netter played on the tour alongside many international tennis greats including Margaret Court, Maria Bueno and Virginia Wade. While she currently resides in Palm Beach, Florida, Netter's passion for tennis and sentimentality for the Eastern section has made her a cherished member of the USTA Eastern community. "Eastern tennis has been a large part of my entire life as I grew up playing Eastern girls* tournaments." Nadine explained. "I enjoy my tennis in Florida, but Eastern is always where my heart will be as I still play with partners and teammates who have been my friends for decades."
Born in New York City and raised in Scarsdale, New York, Nadine's tennis journey began when her father had her accompany him to his hitting sessions at Beach Point Club in Mamaroneck, saving the last five minutes of his court time for her to hit with his pro. Before long, Nadine's tennis talent could no longer be ignored, developing a dominating serve that became one of her signature strengths. Winning her first local 13-and-under tournament at 11 years-old marked the beginning of her extraordinary run as a junior player. In 1958, she won the consolation draw in her first national tournament at age 13, and made it to the semifinals the following year, where she was defeated by Victoria Palmer. To this day. Nadine says that Palmer was one of the best players she had ever encountered. Nadine gained a ranking of 4th in the nation in the 15-and-under age group and subsequently continued to dominate in 18-and-under tournaments before entering college.
As a freshman at Wellesley in the fall of 1962, Nadine entered the Eastern Intercollegiate Championships held at the West Side Tennis Club and won the title. Shortly after her win, she was pulled out of class because a photographer had come to photograph her for the "Faces of the Crowd" Column in Sports Illustrated magazine. "You don't get pulled out of class unless it's important!" Nadine jokes. She had no idea the famed sports publication was considering her for this honor, and Nadine was thrilled when her picture appeared in the October, 1962 issue, which happened to arrive at her house on October 26th, Nadine's birthday.
Nadine entered the National Collegiate Tennis Championships (today's NCAAs) during her junior year at Wellesley and beat the #1 seed on the way to the finals. After this monumental event, Nadine became the #2 collegiate female player in the country. Through her remarkable tennis career, Nadine competed in the most distinguished tennis events in the world such as the Monte Carlo and the French, German and Italian Opens. In 1967, Nadine lost in the final round of qualifying of Wimbledon to Sue Barker. But Nadine's run did not halt there; she became a "lucky loser," chosen to participate in the "The Plate," a tournament for players who were defeated in early rounds of competition. Nadine drew eventual 1968 Wimbledon Champion, Virginia Wade, in this 1967 consolation round. While she lost her match to Wade, she and Wade subsequently became occasional hitting partners. In 1968, her most ambitious hope became a reality when she qualified for the main draw of England's famed grand slam. "It was my ultimate dream to play at Wimbledon!" Nadine said.
Later that summer, she also played in the U.S. Open Championships. More than a decade later, a 35-year-old Nadine qualified for the 1982 US Open Seniors event (today's US Open Championship Invitational), where she played the grand dame of American women's tennis, Billie Jean King, in the first round of the tournament. Nadine continued for many years to be a formidable tennis competitor, reaching a career high ranking of #1 in doubles in the 45's age division.
Nadine continues to be active in the tennis community, having organized tournaments for senior women, captaining the Eastern Intersectional 65s Team, and is currently serving as the co-captain for the USTA Eastern Section Addie Cup team. In recent years, one of Nadine's most treasured moments came in 2016, when she was inducted into her alma mater's, Wellesley College, Athletics Hall of Fame. When asked about her 2018 induction into the USTA Eastern Hall of Fame, Nadine could not contain her excitement. "My induction into the Eastern Hall of Fame is a thrilling recognition of my years in tennis from the section I will always call home."
Lloyd Emanuel affectionately proclaims himself to be "a [tennis] lover and a lifer. I'm a lifer because I gravitated towards the tennis professional industry and I'm a lover because I want to do everything I can to promote the sport and give back to the game." Lloyd has shared his talent and dedication toward his personal mission with USTA Eastern, making our organization stronger and ensuring that veteran lovers of our sport could continue competing as long as they wish.
Lloyd credits his father, Murray Emanuel, for introducing him to the sport to which he committed his life. "When other young guys were going to the park to play softball and basketball, my dad was drawn to the tennis courts at St. James Park in the Bronx, where he became a devoted, self-taught player," said Emanuel. Murray's love for the sport prompted him to move his family 10 miles north to the community of New Rochelle where the tennis was plentiful.
Loyd's family became members of the Beach & Tennis Club, where Lloyd received his first tennis lessons from former Indian Davis Cup player, Ramu Raju. Lloyd distinguished himself as a formidable junior player, winning numerous city tournaments, serving as captain of the New Rochelle High School Boys Tennis team and reaching the AlI-County and a Section 1 singles finals. He was recruited to play for Columbia University, serving as varsity captain under Butch Seewagen from 1970-71 and earning the distinction of Eastern College Athletic Conference doubles champion in 1970.
Shortly after graduating from Columbia, Lloyd enrolled in SUNY New Paltz with the intention of earning a high school teaching degree. He was assigned a student teaching rotation at Saugerties High School, and it didn't take long for him to seek out the school's Boys Varsity tennis coach to offer his assistance, which was gladly accepted. That year, the team won the Ulster County Scholastic Championship for the first time in the school's history.
The families of his high school players pleaded with and persuaded Lloyd to work at a local tennis club over the following summer, where he realized he could make a decent living teaching the subject that truly excited him. And Lloyd never looked back.
Not long after deciding his career path, Lloyd joined the staff at the Valley Tennis Club in Manhasset, N.., hired by his dear friend Bob Litwin. Around the same time, Dick Zausner of the Port Washington Tennis Academy solicited Lloyd's service on several integral fronts: serving on the ETA Junior Ranking Committee, a tedious undertaking that was done without the support of computers, as well as on the USTA National 21-Under Championships nationally and within the Eastern section, which included his appointments as chair of the Girts 16s Junior Ranking and Adult Competition Committees, Secretary and Board Member of USTA Eastern, as well as being a founding board member of the Easter Adult Tennis Foundation and years serving on USTAS National Senior Ranking Committee.
While forging ahead with his tennis career, Lloyd was tormented by an itch that he just couldn't scratch - he stil had an insatiable desire to compete in tennis. 1 found myself in this netherworld, aged out of competing against very strong younger players and not old enough to play in the "seniors" tournaments, which had a minimum age threshold of 35." he explained.
Helping Zausner with the National 21-Under Championships heightened his ambitions as a competitive adult player and scrupulous tournament director. Lloyd sought out every possible means to compete in regional tennis tournaments but there were few opportunities for anyone in their late-20s to early 30s and he found himself counting down the days until his 35th birthday.
Fueled by equal parts relentless impatience and innovation, Lloyd founded the Eastern Master Grand Prix Circuit, a sanctioned adult tournament series that was played on grass, clay, hard and indoor surfaces in the New York metropolitan area between 1985 and 2003.
"By creating the Eastern Master Grand Prix, Lloyd filed a gaping hole in Easter adult competitive tennis that has never been matched by any other section," said Bob Litwin. "For years, Eastern adult players enjoyed their own mini-grand slam that drew hundreds af players annually."
Never one to do anything half-way, Lloyd tirelessly worked to enlist top-name business sponsors, procure sizable prize money and establish a forum in which the likes of national champions including Butch Seewagen, John James, Bob Tans, Kirk Moritz, Scott Shannon and Steve Siegel could enjoy playing at a professional level. The inaugural 1985 tournament was so successful, Charles Friedman of the New York Times wrote a feature story in 1986, lauding Lloyd for creating this tennis "extravaganza for 35ers."
Over the years, Lloyd added older age divisions to the Grand Prix as well as some Women's events. He even added Men's and Women's 25 & over and 30 & over brackets for a few years to address the competitive tennis drought he muddled through, which led to the establishment of national ranking categories in those younger adult divisions. It is also noteworthy to mention that Lloyd himself competed in most of the age brackets of the Eastern Master Grand Prix, often garnering top 5 ranking in singles and doubles.
"For me, competing was and still is the ultimate expression of tennis talent," said Emanuel. "During the years of the Eastern Masters, we, the players, pushed each other to become better adult players. There's nothing more gratifying than playing better which is why I continue to love teaching. | love helping others improve and play their best and sometimes even surpass their own goals."