Tennis

Smith Stearns tennis student enjoys unique US Open experience

Sara McClure gets to play on court with Sloane Stephens

mmccombs@islandpacket.comSeptember 8, 2013 

Smith Stearns Tennis Academy student Sara McClure, 11, poses for a picture with Sloane Stephens during a recent visit to the U.S. Open in New York.

SUBMITTED PHOTO — Photo contributed

Sara McClure's 12th birthday isn't for another week, but you could say she's already celebrated.

The 11-year-old Smith Stearns Tennis Academy student saw one of her dreams come true on Labor Day when she was lucky enough to play her idol, Sloane Stephens, in a "friendly match" at the U.S. Open American Express Fan Experience in New York.

McClure took first place from among more than 300 competitors in a "king of the court" format to earn the right to play Stephens. The match took place in front of spectators, and the event was hosted by former tennis star Murphy Jensen of the Tennis Channel and prominent tennis coach Nick Bollettieri.

After the match, Sara, ranked No. 2 in South Carolina and 25th in the Southeast among players under 12 by the USTA, posed for photos, signed autographs and exchanged email addresses with fans and players.

"It was one of the neatest things I have ever done," McClure said.

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