Tennis pro Nathan Healey, from Gosford to Malvern, talks Montco Tennis

Article originally appeared in the Montgomery News, June 30th, 2011.


Local tennis fans had the chance to meet and get personal instruction from some top local pros, as members of the Philadelphia Freedoms offered three public clinics June 28.

The Philadelphia Freedoms are a team in World Team Tennis, a coed tennis league that plays each year during the month of July. World Team Tennis distinguishes itself from regular professional tennis events by aiming for a more viewer-friendly approach to the game, with multicolored courts, easier-to-follow scoring, music and entertainment. The league attracts some of the sport’s marquee players, such as Serena and Venus Williams, along with popular retired players, such as John McEnroe.

The Philadelphia Freedoms play their home matches at Villanova University, with their opening home matchup set for July 6.

In an effort to spread excitement about the game of tennis, members of the Freedoms hosted free public clinics at three locations in Ambler.

The day began with Josh Cohen, the Freedoms’ assistant coach and also the assistant coach for the University of Pennsylvania men’s tennis team, conducting a clinic on the courts at Wissahickon High School from 10:45 a.m. to noon.

Following that, retired professional tennis player Nathan Healey worked with campers at the Ambler Area YMCA from 1 to 2 p.m. The day wrapped up with Pascal Collard, the Freedoms’ head coach and a former coach for professional players, giving an hour-long clinic at the Upper Dublin Sports Center at 4 p.m.

Held in an indoor gym with a net set up across the basketball court, the clinic at the Ambler Area YMCA gave approximately 35 campers age 3 to 14 the chance to hone their racket skills and meet a professional player.

Healey turned pro in 1998, playing on the men’s professional tour for 12 years, reaching career high rankings of No. 58 in doubles and No. 159 in singles. He then turned to coaching and worked with former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt.

Healey is in his fourth season of World Team Tennis and his third with the Freedoms. Born in Australia, he now lives in the Philadelphia area and just opened a tennis academy in Malvern, so he said playing for the Philadelphia team has been great.

“It’s good to be back with the Freedoms,” he said. “I love it here.”

Healey was joined at the clinic by the Freedoms’ mascot, Spirit the eagle, who danced around the gym to the delight of the campers.

During the clinic, Healey talked to the campers about World Team Tennis before leading them through some volleying drills. He finished off by asking the children trivia questions for a chance to win free tickets to an upcoming Freedoms match.

Many of the campers said they enjoyed playing at the clinic and having the chance to meet a professional athlete in person.

“It’s fun because you get to learn from the best,” Brandon Dolan, 11, said.

“It was fun. I’ve never really met any famous tennis people, so it was neat to see how they do stuff,” Eve Siconolfi, 14, said, noting she has visited the U.S. Open but never met a player. “I’ve never been so close to them before. It’s really cool.”

Healey said the Freedoms offered the free local clinics as a way to get children excited about the sport.

“We just want to really boost the interest in tennis around Philadelphia, just getting out and really inspiring the kids and encouraging them to come to team tennis and really experience the atmosphere there, which is amazing,” he said. “It’s just going to ignite that passion for the game. [It’s] just really getting them out and getting a racket in their hands.”

Healey also said working with children at clinics like the one at the YMCA is a favorite part of his job.

“I like it when the kids’ faces light up when a shot goes over and the game really clicks with them,” he said. “It’s exciting to see.”


Details about Healey’s Tennis Camps –

Source & video footage:

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