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LOUDONVILLE: Learning from a legend

Several dozen Capital District tennis players got the chance to learn from one of the sport's all-time greats Saturday.

Roy Emerson held a pair of morning clinics at Schuyler Meadows Country Club in Loudonville before participating in an afternoon pro-am. The first clinic was for children from the 15-LOVE program, and the second was for adults.

I like working with kids, especially when they are keen to learn, said the 70-year-old Emerson, who won 28 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles.

"He's great at teaching kids," said Schuyler Meadows pro Jonathan Ellenbogen. "He talks to them in a way that they can understand."

The adult clinic and pro-am were a fundraiser for the 15-LOVE program, which teaches tennis to youth who can't afford to take lessons.

"It's cool," said 17-year-old Rumeal Lewis of Colonie, who is in his fifth year with the 15-LOVE program. "We're like a big family here."

"There's a lot of things to do like going to the U.S. Open," added 12-year-old Akina Ngu, who is in her second year with the Capital District chapter.

Emerson worked specifically with the children on their serves and was a patient teacher as they tried to land their serves properly.

"When I couldn't get my serve through, he helped me with how high to toss the ball," said Ngu.

"He's got a good sense of humor. He was laughing a lot," said Lewis. "But he was also very cool, which I guess is what helped him win all those Grand Slam titles."

Emerson said he feels a responsibility to pass the game on to the next generation.

"The kids, they're the next tennis players," he said. "If we don't take care of them, we won't have tennis players."

Emerson learned the game growing up in Australia. He won his first Grand Slam title in 1959 at Wimbledon as a doubles player and claimed his first singles championship at the 1961 Australian Open. He wound up winning his native country's singles title a record six times, the last coming in 1967. Emerson also won two Wimbledon, two French and two U.S. Open singles titles.

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