QUEENS, N.Y. (WHTM) – 24 youth tennis players from the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association (CWTA) in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, and the city of Reading tennis program got to play at the U.S. Open on Sept. 4.
“It was cool to see the point of view that the players get to see from on the court and it was cool to see how they play and what they kind of feel like when they’re on the court,” said Natalie Nelson.
Nelson was one of the players who got to attend the U.S. Open with the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association. Nelson is a sixth grader who has been playing tennis for six years. Her favorite players are Aryna Sabalenka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Nelson and her teammates got to watch some of the matches while they were in New York as well. They got to witness Djokovic and the No. 1 men’s tennis doubles team in the world compete.
“Watching the matches was very cool, especially when you can see what they do because you can learn from watching all those pros play,” Nelson said. “It was cool to see how they play and then maybe trying to use some of that stuff in yours to make yourself better.”
Juliet Perkins, a sixth grader who has been playing tennis for seven years, was inspired as well.
“It was really cool and it was super fun,” said Perkins. “It was cool to feel what the tennis players play on.”
Perkins comes from a line of local tennis greats. Her aunt was the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association’s first-ever doubles county champion in 2011 and her sister is a three-time state doubles finalist and state champion.
Perkins’s favorite professional tennis players are Roger Feder, Carlos Alcaraz, Nadal, and Djokovic.
Perkins, Nelson, and the rest of the group of 24 central Pennsylvania kids were able to experience tennis at the highest level at the U.S. Open, which made the president of the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association Ryan Knarr very happy.
“The opportunity for me was very rewarding because a lot of our players have seen professional tennis, but the opportunity for them to actually get out there and be on court and play right before a live U.S. Open match was rewarding for me and our entire program,” said Knarr.
The local tennis organizations got the opportunity through the U.S. Tennis Association’s (USTA) Net Generation program. The USTA offers the on-court experience every year, but the program is very competitive. The Conrad Weiser Tennis Association applied for the first time this year and was awarded the opportunity.
The Conrad Weiser Tennis Association serves children in k-12 to aid in their development into tennis players, helping them reach their highest potential in the sport. Knarr started the CWTA in 2011 and the 501(c)(3) non-profit has helped foster a love for tennis in central Pennsylvania youth ever since.
The Conrad Weiser Tennis Facility was built in collaboration with the Conrad Weiser school district and is located behind Conrad Weiser Middle School. The courts won the Outstanding Tennis Facility Award in 2023 from the USTA. The national, award-winning courts ensure that central Pennsylvania kids have everything they need to develop their tennis skills.
The young athletes won’t forget their experience at the U.S. Open where they were able to play on the same courts as their idols, watch their idols compete, and get autographs from their favorite players.
“It was just an unbelievable experience for our program, our community, and our entire organization,” Knarr said.
The 2023 U.S. Open concluded on Sept. 10, but these young central Pennsylvania tennis players will have memories that last a lifetime from this year’s event.