TEANECK, N.J. — A Teaneck native is being recognized by the Junior Tennis Foundation.
Steve Siegel will be inducted into the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame on Friday, April 21, at the Beach Point Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Siegel grew up hitting and began playing eastern tournaments when he was 10 years old, and national tournaments at age 12. He demonstrated significant success as an eastern junior as he was ranked as high as No. 1 in the section for boys’ 14s, 16s and 18s throughout his time competing.
“It was exciting to do well enough in the East to be on a team that would go to National tournaments,” Siegel said. “Traveling with kids I became friends with to compete against kids from around the country was an amazing experience.”
During Siegel’s senior year at Teaneck High School, Siegel won the boys’ tennis state championship. He went on to play collegiately at Miami Dade Junior College North for two years, where he was a two-time All-American in singles and doubles.
Siegel won the National Junior College men’s doubles title his first year and the men’s singles title his second year. He then played varsity singles and doubles the following two years at the University of Miami.
After college, Siegel competed professionally qualifying for several ATP tournaments including the US Open and the French Open. He rose as high as No. 244 in the world in singles competing against a wide variety of notable opponents including: Rod Laver, Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe.
Siegel considers one of his most exhilarating matches one he played against Ilie Nastase, who was ranked in the top three in the world at the time, in Paramus.
“When you’re playing a match in which you have nothing to lose, it is easier than playing someone you’re supposed to beat,” Siegel said.
“It was a great experience and thrilling to play in front of family and friends.”
Siegel also played in the Eastern Section his entire adult career and continued to compete in the senior divisions. He won several men’s singles tournaments, ranking No. 1 in the Eastern Section in 1975, in the men’s 35s in 1983, the men’s 40s in 1988 and the men’s 45s in 1993.
In addition to competing, Siegel worked as a teaching professional for more than 40 years. Siegel worked with top Eastern juniors as well as adults.
“It was an easy transition to go from playing to teaching,” Siegel said. “I enjoyed teaching because it is one of the few lifetime sports people can have fun playing at any age and level.”
Siegel worked as a head teaching professional at Englewood Indoor, Teaneck Tennis Club and Edgewood Country Club in New Jersey over the course of approximately 20 years before becoming the Director of Racquet Sports at Plandome Country Club in Plandome, N.Y. for 22 years. Through his role at Plandome Country Club, Siegel led all junior and adult tennis programming.
“Working with younger people makes you stay young,” Siegel said. “When I started at Plandome I was younger than most of the people and when I ended I was older than most of the people.”
In December 2016, Siegel moved to Houston, Texas and relished the notion that he knew people upon arriving to his new home because of tennis. Siegel still continues to play tennis on a regular basis. Although he may not reside within the Eastern Section anymore, Siegel is proud of the work he has done and the 60-year relationships he has developed with tennis friends across the country.
“I am thrilled to be included with some of the incredible people who have been inducted into Eastern’s Hall of Fame,” Siegel said. “It is the biggest honor you can have growing up in the area.”
Proceeds from the celebration will benefit JTF, which provides scholarships and grants for junior and adaptive tennis players throughout the Eastern Section.
Click here for information to register. For additional information, call 914-697-2386.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.