2015-16 Simon Gale Award for an Outstanding Junior

The inaugural 2015-16 Simon Gale Award for an Outstanding Junior was presented to Hastings on Hudson junior, Wylie Feaster, (above left) and New Rochelle junior, Will Hanvey (above right) on Saturday, May 21st at the final Play Day of the 2015-16 season. Joe Curto, Yonkers Tennis President, created the award after the departure of the former general manager, Simon Gale, who spent 12 years at Yonkers Tennis developing a progressive tennis program that has become a top program in the area, along with receiving national accolades.

This new annual club award is granted to a junior player who has worked hard on and off the court, who possesses a level of integrity not only as players but as human beings, who challenges others to reach their greatest potential and who have a genuine love for the game. The staff at Yonkers Tennis led by Curto chose the award recipients. The award was originally meant for one junior player who would receive a $1000 scholarship check for college related expenses, but two recipients were chosen and awarded $750 each. “We had two great kids that were well deserving of the award and instead of trying to decide between the two, we wanted to honor them both,” said Mark Santucci, Director of Tennis and Operations.

“There’s much more than tennis that happens on and off of the court, and tennis is a great vehicle to helping our junior players become better people,” said Curto. “This award really captures what YTC is about,” said Gale. “We are not talking about being the club champion, that only lasts so long, what this award is about their character and it clearly demonstrates the sort of character they possess and how highly the coaches think of them. They are considered role models for the younger players and represent the type of person the club wants in the community.”

Will Hanvey is an 8th grade Iona Prep student who was nominated by the YTC staff. It’s easy to see why. Will is a skilled player who has been playing for 6 years and an even stronger role model not only to his younger brother, Jack, who also plays here at YTC, but also to his peers. Will is a hard worker and has great instincts on the court. According to his coaches he is smart, strategic and strong but stays humble and open to helping others and seeing himself grow stronger as a player and an all-around individual. Will’s parents love watching their son embrace a sport that became a true love of his early on. On Will’s passion for the game and his “home court” at YTC: “He loves everything about tennis and Yonkers Tennis—the classes, the coaches, the tournaments, the summer camp. Even when he loses in a tournament he comes out smiling and saying that he had fun.” This demonstrates more than just athletic talent; it also demonstrates his wisdom for understanding that each experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. A well-deserved award and we look forward to will becoming a Coach in Training this summer! Congratulations, Will!

Wylie Feaster is a 9th grader at Hastings High School and was also nominated by the YTC staff. It might be safe to say, tennis found Wiley. When he was about six years old his parents shared a family philosophy with him: we all need a sport to call their own, especially youth. What would Wiley’s be? Soon after being exposed to tennis at the Hastings Rec Center, something happened. Tennis became his sport and so he began to play after school and with friends. His skills improved, his desire to play increased and his tennis experiences carried him from young boy to young man. Then, when Wiley was about ten, Yonkers Tennis Center became part of the equation and there’s no turning back now. With the help and encouragement of his coaches who find him to be one of the most respectful, dedicated and fierce competitors at the club, Wiley expanded his tennis repertoire to include competitive tournament play as well as being a Coach In Training. His grounded and likeable approach with the some of the younger players mixed with his passion means new students have a great young role model to look up to. On Wiley’s style, his mom offers: “He just makes people feel good!” But for those who see Wiley out there playing and coaching it’s more than just a feeling, he digs deep, works hard and gets the job done. We are looking forward to Wylie being a Coach In Training again this summer! Congratulations, Wylie!