William & Mary’s McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center announces that Associate Director, Neely Zervakis, has been awarded the 2019 USPTA Mid Atlantic Division U30 Professional of the Year. This prestigious award is given out annually to a select individual who has shown immense success in empowering the next generation of tennis-teaching professionals to be creative, optimistic, and innovative leaders of the USPTA and tennis industry.
Neely has demonstrated the ability to forge extraordinary opportunities for her peers and junior tennis professionals to teach, coach, and excel at providing the community with ways to continually improve one’s tennis skills. Neely has provided this devotion to excellence and continual progression to the community for over 8 years. Neely stated that she aspires to“inspire excellence, create opportunities, connect the community, and foster a positive, lifelong impact through tennis.”
With that philosophy, she has been able to support her students, team and community annually by coaching Junior Team Tennis, Early Development Camps and conducting MNTC holiday events such as the Halloween Fest, Turkey Tournament and Holiday Party where the students make and deliver cards to local nursing homes. Neely plays on multiple USTA teams and supports the CTC Women’s Charity Classic Tournament, the Angel Tree Tournament at the Kingsmill Community, and local elementary schools “Field Day” by volunteering to show over 500 children each year the sport of tennis.
However, when asked what was one of her biggest accomplishments for empowering not only her tennis-teaching professional peers, but also the community as a whole, she replied “hosting the ACEing Autism Camp at McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center.” ACEing Autism is a nonprofit organization that aims to connect children on the autism spectrum through school-based and community tennis programs. She invested numerous hours of her personal time ensuring that each day of the camp was comprehensive in both enjoyment and education for both the volunteer tennis coaches and the children who are on the autism spectrum. Neely stated, “I am grateful that this program has provided the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center community the opportunity to encourage and empower both the children to be able to learn a new skill, build relationships, and gain confidence and to allow our tennis-teaching professionals to coach out of their comfort zone, challenge themselves to become better coaches which has allowed them to embrace the power of tennis as an all-inclusive sport.”
Director, Michael Caboy, states that “Neely, through her passion for tennis and strong sense of community, has accomplished tremendous work through all of the programming under her direction. She has been able to unite the community at the tennis center and create an environment which not only has a positive impact on the participants of the ACEing Autism program, but also the volunteers themselves.” Both Caboy and Zervakis were so inspired by the fulfillment that the volunteers and the children got from this camp that they vowed to keep this an ongoing program to keep autism awareness at the forefront in our community and in the tennis industry. McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center has been able to make the ACEing Autism Camp a reoccurring program, the first facility to ever do so.
Furthermore, Caboy stated that “in my 30 plus years in this industry, I have never felt the sense of community and joy that I do while working with the ACEing Autism program. It is truly my favorite program I have ever been involved with and still get goosebumps as each program comes to an end. This is completely due to the work and effort of Neely along with the volunteers under her direction. She has the special talent of connecting with all individuals and her passion for the programs and for the tennis center is truly inspirational.”
Neely said she is “grateful for the opportunities that have allowed me to make all of my accomplishments.” She goes on to state, “I am most thankful to my team, mentors, students, and the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center community as they have supported, challenged, and believed in me every step of the way.” She plans to “continually provide the community with unique opportunities to connect with one another, help everyone become better teachers and students, and to help inspire excellence through the sport of tennis.”