Wilander is coming to the club — the former home of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament until 1977 — for a charity event during which he will play with amateur tennis players willing to pay $250, the organizers said.
“He will teach you his tennis skills and then you can challenge him to a match,” said Casey Fitzpatrick from Debra of America, a non-profit organization, raising awareness about a rare genetic disorder, Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).
Mats Wilander’s son, 15-year-old Erik, suffers from a mild form of EB, Fitzpatrick said. One of the symptoms, he said, is having an extremely fragile skin that blisters and tears from minor friction.
After his son was diagnosed with the disease, Wilander began promoting knowledge about EB.
The Inaugural Mats Wilander Foundation Tennis Pro-Am will take place on Aug. 28, the same day that Mumford & Sons will play the first concert at the tennis club in decades.
During the event, Wilander will play with other pros during a professional exhibition match. The names of the other pros have not yet been confirmed, Fitzpatrick said, but in the past John McEnroe, James Blake and Jim Courier were among those who supported Wilander.
There will also be instructional clinics, competition drills, and round-robins, Fitzpatrick said. “It’s open to all ages and all tennis experience levels, you don’t even have to know tennis to attend,” he added.
The organizers said they hope to continue the event every year.
The Inaugural Mats Wilander Foundation Tennis Pro-Am will take place on Wednesday, August 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. A 'player pass' for the entire event, which also includes breakfast and lunch, costs $250. Those who do not want to play, can buy a 'viewing and dining ticket,' which costs $75. Proceeds will go to support Debra of America. To get more information go here.