Tennis legend Roy Emerson, the Australian who won 28 Grand Slam singles and doubles championships and calls Newport Beach his home, gave one local rising tennis star the opportunity of a lifetime.
Jessica Perez had the chance to hit balls with the tennis legend and received additional coaching and tips on the game.
The background: Emerson lends his name and support to the annual Roy Emerson Adoption Guild Classic tennis tournament, which is held in Newport Beach every Memorial Day weekend. In addition to supporting the tournament through his name, he and his wife, Joy, are also actively involved in helping to raise funds for the Adoption Guild of Southern California, which donates all proceeds from their charity events to Holy Family Services to assist with helping children and families with adoptions in Southern California.
This year, in the silent auction held at the tournament, Emerson donated an opportunity to spend time with him on the court, rallying back and forth in a casual, clinic-type environment, and the winning bidder was Linda Salo. She bid on the item with her granddaughter, Jessica Perez, a local USTA-ranked junior player, in mind.
Emerson has the prestigious record of being the only male tennis player to have won singles and doubles championships at all four Grand Slam tournaments, and his 28 Grand Slam titles overall are also a record. He’s the only male tennis player to have won each of the four Grand Slam tournaments twice in his career, a feat also accomplished by Margaret Court. Arguably his most polished year was 1964, when he won 55 consecutive matches and won 109 of his 115 matches on the year as he went on to win Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.
Jessica met with Roy on the courts on a recent warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in Newport Beach. Roy spent more than hours hitting with the aspiring player, who is a varsity player on the strong Dana Hills High School team, and he worked with her on various aspects of the game, and more specifically on improving her volley technique.
Salo remarked that she is planning to bid on the same auction item next year, during finals weekend at the tennis tournament, perhaps for her grandson this time.
The Adoption Guild is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Southern California. Its major fund aising events are a Patroness Tea held every April at a private residence, and its Roy Emerson Classic tennis tournament. Both events feature a silent auction offering such items as the opportunity to hit with Roy.
To learn more about the organization and its activities, visit adoptionguild.org.