Young Nassau tennis player experiences lifelong thrills at US Open – Sports

2022 champion Carlos Alcaraz and Nassau Co. Brij Vashist, 12 (right), pose with the trophy after Alcatraz won a men’s singles championship match at the 2022 US Open, Sunday, September 11, 2022 in Flushing , NY. (Pete Staples/USTA)

Brij Vashist, 12, had a thought while waiting to go on TV on 9/11 in front of 24,000 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium and millions more on TV:

“Don’t walk too fast, because you look really good today and daddy brushed your hair and everything.”

Well, okay, he had a few more thoughts too, but that was the one he said was his last before heading into the final ceremony for the US Open men’s singles trophy.

Vashist, one of the top 12-and-under players on the East Coast (he’s currently ranked No. 15 in the USTA Eastern), was one of two young players honored by the USTA to leave the championship and the trophies of the finalists last Sunday. after the men’s final, in which Carlos Alcaraz (only seven years older than Brij) defeated Casper Ruud.

Vashist, who lives in Hicksville and is in 7th grade, was introduced to millions as being from the Port Washington Tennis Academy, where he played for much of last winter. (Vasisht plays at several clubs in Nassau County throughout the year.)

“It was so exciting but so nerve-wracking,” Vashist said in a phone interview days after his national television debut. “Like I knew everyone I knew would be watching, and there were so many famous tennis players (on stage) right around me. I didn’t want to trip or break the trophy or something, you know?

Neil Thakur, school tennis officer and community tennis coordinator for USTA Long Island/Metro, explained that Brij was one of many children who asked to be chosen as coin tossers, trophy holders and other ceremonial duties. at the US Open.

“We basically look at the kids who have done well in the different regions, most of them have to be close to the Open,” Thakur said. “And Brij did well in the junior tournaments. We thought it was a good way to pay tribute to him.

Vashist said that after completing the application, he didn’t think he had a chance of winning, although he allowed himself to dream about it. One day he said he woke up from a nap to drink some water and found his father, Nav Vashist, staring at him sternly.

“My parents said they had received a letter for me, and my father told me to come and sit down,” Brij recalls. “I thought maybe I got a letter from school saying I had done something wrong, but then I was like, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong at school.’

“And then he showed me the email I had chosen and we were so excited.”

Nav Vashist said he and his wife Sonia were delighted Brij was cast.

“The app said they were looking for tennis-obsessed kids, and no one is more tennis-obsessed than my son,” Nav Vashist said with a laugh. “And then the day he did, with good places and going down towards the end of the game, and seeing him in front of all these people, it was surreal. Like an out of body experience.

Brij, who said he’s a big fan of Novak Djokovic, said he’s watched videos and studied past trophy ceremonies so he knows what to do. Once he got to the Ashe Stadium pitch, he said he was standing close to John McEnroe and “hoped I wouldn’t mess anything up”.

After the trophy presentation, Brij said he was able to meet and hit the new champion, Alcaraz, and take pictures.

At Hicksville Middle School the next day, he said his teachers kept coming up to him and congratulating him, but most of his friends had no idea what his big moment was.

“They don’t like tennis and I don’t like bragging,” he said.

Brij’s goal, unsurprisingly, is to one day have another child’s hand him the US Open trophy and play professional tennis at the highest possible level.

“I want to go against Alcaraz one day!” he said. “Or if I can’t play pro, play college. But keep playing as long as possible. Because tennis is the best sport.


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