Wilander gives memorable clinic in Ellington

ELLINGTON — Mats Wilander spent the afternoon in Ellington Monday teaching amateurs and fans how to play tennis. And for the seven-time Grand Slam singles winner, teaching others to play is just as rewarding as competing as a pro.

“It was very good,” Wilander said. “It was very energetic. People are very excited about playing tennis in general and excited to come out and hoping to learn something new.”

Though Wilander was in Ellington for the first time, he did enjoy a Connecticut hot dog for dinner afterwards. No stranger to Connecticut, he lived in Greenwich for 10 years.

The event, held with the cooperation of The Friends of Ellington Tennis, also helped a good cause, the MW foundation. The foundation’s main purpose is to help raise awareness for the genetic disease Epidermal Bulluyosa, commonly referred to as EB. EB is a rare genetic disease characterized by the presence of extremely fragile skin and recurrent blister formation, resulting from minor mechanical friction or trauma. This blistering is considered to be worse than being burnt. Those who have the most severe cases of EB require 24-hour care and are wheel chair bound. An estimated one out of every 50,000 live births are affected with some type of EB. The disorder occurs in every racial and ethnic group throughout the world and affects both sexes equally. Mats’ 15-year-old son Erik inherited a mild form of this genetic disease at birth.

Wilander was happy to share some insider knowledge on the tennis court with local aspiring athletes of all ages.

“Yesterday was great,” he said. “W do about an hour of drills and the drills we do are very hard. They are quite physical and it’s nice to see players understand how professionals practice. Amateurs get to the level they are and they don’t understand that success is about how you practice. That’s what we are trying to help people with, what to think about when you hit a shot, where you want to go and how to get there, The game of tennis, when the ball is not on the racket, that’s what we are trying to teach.”

The current tour, called Wilander on Wheels, began in Brookline, Mass last week and will continue throughout Connecticut and on Long Island until the U.S. Open begins in a few weeks.

Wilander says throughout the years he has run nearly 900 clinics, visited more than 400 tennis clubs and has met more than 6,000 tennis players.

All photos by Kevin Hayes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *