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INTERVIEW: Johnny Mac Tennis Project Executive Director Jordan Botjer On The 2019 Hamptons Pro-Am, The Project’s Inspiring Impact, And More

Nicole Barylski

Patrick McEnroe, Lindsay Davenport, Andrea Jaeger, John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova at last year's Pro-Am. (Photo: Mark Sagliocco/PMC)

On Saturday, August 24, tennis legend John McEnroe will be joined by several tennis superstars at SPORTIME Amagansett Tennis and Swim Club for the 5th annual Johnny Mac Tennis Project (JMTP) Pro-Am in the Hamptons.

We caught up with new JMTP executive director, Jordan Botjer about this year's fundraiser, the JMTP's impact, and more.

Who will be featured in the 5th annual Johnny Mac Tennis Project's Pro-Am in the Hamptons?

JB: This year we have a great lineup of tennis superstars. John and Patrick McEnroe will be joined by other greats of the sport including Kim Clijsters, Mardy Fish, Mats Wilander, Guillermo "Willy" Cañas and Emilio Sánchez. Guests will play with our legends and pros, get to meet some of the children this fundraiser benefits, and enjoy great food and drinks---then attend the After-Party and mix and mingle.

The event will also include an After Party at a private residence with music selections by renowned actor and celebrity DJ Alan Cumming. Tell us a little bit about that.

JB: The After-Party is, of course, an incredibly fun part of the event. Guests can join our stars and celebrities at an exquisite Hamptons home, discuss the upcoming US Open, bid on auction items and enjoy music selected by our celebrity DJ, actor Alan Cumming. As I'm sure you know, one of Alan's many famous movie and Broadway roles was playing Billie Jean King's tennis-fashion designer Ted Tinling in Battle of the Sexes with Emma Stone---and he really loves the game! He is also very supportive of the Johnny Mac Tennis Project's efforts to make tennis more accessible and affordable for young people and grow the sport.

How has funds raised during the Hamptons Pro-Am impacted the Johnny Mac Tennis Project?

JB: This Hamptons Pro-Am is JMTP's signature annual fundraiser, and allows us to introduce the game of tennis to kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience it. We do a lot of outreach and work with schools in the East Harlem and the South Bronx neighborhoods surrounding our headquarters at SPORTIME Randall's Island. The program is really growing and, in addition to extending scholarships for tennis training through the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, is now partnering with local schools and providing instruction as part of a physical education curriculum each week at SPORTIME's facility. This past spring, JMTP launched a partnership with BNP Paribas, which is sponsoring need-based scholarships for ten top New York City area junior players to receive JMTA tennis training, including tournament and travel costs for competitive play. This is part of creating a pipeline that allows players with real enthusiasm for the sport to go as far as their talent can take them.

JMTP founder John McEnroe with students. (Courtesy Photo)

You recently joined JMTP as executive director. What attracted you to the role?

JB: Well I have been playing tennis for most of my life, and have been passionate about the sport for a very long time. I played tennis competitively as a junior and in college. I went on to become an attorney, but stayed very involved in athletics, working in a pro bono capacity to help create opportunities for young girls to play sports and to ensure that Title IX rules were upheld. The role I have now combines my love for the sport with the ability to make a positive impact on young New Yorkers. I believe that tennis taught me a lot about perseverance, problem-solving and self-reliance so, helping to bring a sport that played a pivotal role in shaping who I am into the lives of kids who might not otherwise be exposed to it, is very fulfilling. And just like John McEnroe says, how great would it be to find and train the next American tennis superstar in his hometown of NYC?

How many students currently participate in JMTP?

JB: JMTP has provided tennis opportunities for thousands of children since its inception. Currently our community and school programs offer tennis as a physical education class for 12 local schools and a total of 400 students weekly. In addition to this community programming, JMTP provides scholarships to the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, which have made it possible for hundreds of players to access higher levels of competition. We also have what we call our Excellence program for very young players who show lots of promise and are working their way towards JMTA.

Could you discuss the impact of JMTP on participant's lives?

JB: I see the difference it makes every day. We see children become more confident, athletically, socially and personally, as they begin to improve their basic tennis skills. We see young girls empowered by their strength and talent on the court. We hear feedback from parents and teachers that their kids are more focused in school and more driven to succeed. We see children who, even though they may be experiencing family or personal difficulties, are able to laugh and have fun and leave everything else off the court for a few hours. Best of all, we see some kids fall in love with the sport and begin to work to improve and compete as they pursue this new passion.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

JB: We hope that your readers will come join us on Saturday the 24th! Tickets are still available for this great day of tennis in the Hamptons with John McEnroe and Alan Cumming---all in support of helping kids play this great sport and achieve their goals.

The Pro-Am begins at 2 p.m., while the After Party begins at 7 p.m.

SPORTIME Amagansett Tennis and Swim Club is located at 320 Abrahams Path in East Hampton. For more information, visit www.jmtpny.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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