Four to five times a week, after classes end at Lynbrook South Middle School, Cooper Schorr, 12, heads to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens to take tennis lessons. He also hones his skills at weekly lessons at the Bethpage Park Tennis Center.
Cooper’s dedication is paying off: He earned a national ranking in the sport after he and Zavier Augustin, of Malverne, won the Boys 12 doubles title at the U.S. Tennis Association’s Empire Cup in Mamaroneck last month. With the victory, Cooper was ranked No. 12 in his age group by the USTA.
“To be able to win that, it was really special,” Cooper said. “That was one of my goals. I was very happy and very proud. I reached my goal.”
Cooper and Zavier won five matches together in the tournament, which took place Dec. 13-15.
Cooper began playing tennis when he was 3, and quickly started showing flashes of greatness, which led to his being paired against players who were three to four years older than him. As he improved, he started entering mini-tournaments, and while he also excelled at hockey and baseball, he committed to tennis.
Cooper said he has grown to love the game, and noted that he recently toured Arthur Ashe Stadium at the National Tennis Center, the site of the U.S. Open, and saw the locker rooms as well as the courts. “It’s really cool to know that that’s where all these historic moments in tennis happened,” he said.
Tennis great Roger Federer, Cooper said, is one of his role models, as is his grandfather, Artie Freifedler, who used to work as a tennis pro and played the sport in college. Freifedler takes Cooper to tournaments around the state, and has traveled with his grandson to Florida and other states to watch him compete.
Another one of his heroes, Cooper said, is Steve Kaplan, who trains him at the Bethpage Park Tennis Center. Kaplan said he has worked with Cooper for about three years, and that he used to train his mother, Andi Schorr, when she played tennis as a child. He said he was proud to teach tennis to a second-generation athlete, and described Cooper as mature, poised and eager to learn.
“Most kids his age prioritize winning above everything else,” Kaplan said, “but Cooper really puts at the forefront just enjoying what he does and learning more about it, and trying to build the kind of game that will succeed later on.”
Kaplan, who has owned the Bethpage Park facility since it was built in 1999, said that Cooper is a “thoughtful player” and a solid striker. He compared him to Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, noting that they see the basketball court and football field differently than their peers, which helps them excel, much like Cooper sees the tennis court in a special way when he’s playing.
“It’s really gratifying to see him earn a national ranking,” Kaplan said. “He’s such a care-free, happy and irreverent little kid, but sometimes he surprises you with his maturity and his worldly outlook.”
Andi Schorr said she was at the Mamaroneck tournament, and that she is most proud of how her son handles himself on the court. Cooper never gets angry or frustrated, she said, and doesn’t throw his racket, as some players do. She added that she was emotional when he and Zavier won their doubles title.
“We were in tears,” she said. “A lot of kids his age don’t put this kind of time into anything. He lives a very different life than his friends, and to see him succeed and accomplish that major goal was just . . . I was crying.”
Andi said that she and her husband, Mike, and their oldest son, Liam, are Cooper’s biggest supporters, as are his grandparents. Cooper is now training for another tournament in Ohio next month, at which he will look to improve his ranking. He has many goals in life, he said, including playing tennis for a Division I college and then becoming an orthopedic surgeon, which, he said, he was inspired to strive for by his experiences playing tennis.
“If I can, I would like to influence people,” he said. “That would be my ultimate goal.”