(Article and picture courtesy of the Gazette – Click here for original article published on 7/31/2013)
Kastles Pay Tribute to Olney Brothers
Pro tennis team honors pair at county tennis foundation event
By Jennifer Beekman, staff writer
Olney residents Brian and Mark Salewski are the Bryan Brothers — the winningest doubles pair in men’s professional tennis history — of Maryland Special Olympics tennis.
“We’ve been calling them that for years. They’re similar to the Bryans. They’re not quite identical. One is slightly taller than the other. One (Mark) is left-handed,” said Greg Overkamp, who works with the Montgomery County Tennis and Education Foundation and coaches the county’s Special Olympics tennis contingent.
In June, the 22-year-old Salewski brothers joined forces to defeat teams from counties across the state to win their seventh straight Summer Games gold medal at the Maryland 2013 Summer Special Olympic Games, held at Towson University.
Their performance earned them the opportunity to compete at the National Special Olympics Games, scheduled for June 14 at Princeton University in New Jersey. The Salewski brothers were selected to play both singles and doubles there, Overkamp said.
The brothers were honored for their remarkable accomplishments at a ceremony held before the Washington Kastles’ July 24 World Team Tennis home match.
On Sunday the Kastles, led by International Tennis Hall of Fame member Martina Hingis, whom the Salewski brothers got to meet last Wednesday, won their third consecutive World Team Tennis title.
The twin brothers from Olney received their awards in front of the sizeable crowd in attendance at the Montgomery County Tennis and Education Foundation’s pre-match Party with the Pros fundraising silent auction.
Though Montgomery County as a whole ranks in the nation’s top 10 wealthiest counties, according to 2011 Census Bureau data released in 2012, there are many pockets within the region with families in need that should not be overlooked, MCTEF President Paul Sommers said.
“Montgomery County has a million people and it’s very diverse in every sense of the word,” Sommers said. “People are mistaken if they think people are not in need. And if they’re not in need, they might not have access to recreation programs. We like to think we are teaching a lot of skills besides tennis; these are skills that these kids can incorporate into their life like diet and nutrition, ways to have a healthy lifestyle.”
An extension of the Montgomery County Tennis Association, the MCTEF is a nonprofit organization created in 2006 and aimed at “providing healthy and educational opportunities to underserved Montgomery County youth using tennis as the vehicle to teach sportsmanship, self-discipline and a strong work ethic,” according to its website.
One hundred six items, which included everything from a Wimbledon program signed by the world’s No. 1-ranked men’s professional tennis player, Novak Djokovic, to spa treatments, with a value of $22,000 were up for bid at last Wednesday’s auction. The proceeds — an estimated $10,000 — will benefit the MCTEF programs.
In addition to the Special Olympics program, the MCTEF runs free after-school classes at four middle school sites throughout the county in the fall and spring. Participants are provided with rackets.
For the sixth summer, the MCTEF sent a group of at-risk middle school-age student-athletes to the weeklong UVA Tennis and Education camp in Charlottesville, Va., where tennis instruction is coupled with a business leadership course. This year the MCTEF provided 12 children with scholarships to the camp.
The MCTEF has to generate its own funding, Hatten said, and needs help if it is going to continue to expand.
In addition to growing its after-school program from four middle school sites, Sommers said he would like to expand the MCTEF program from middle school student-athletes to elementary and high school participants as well.
“The Kastles is so community oriented and it is conducive to what the MCTEF is about, that one-to-one relationship. We’re the grass-roots part of tennis. What tennis has to offer is an exercise program for life and it is a segue into education. There are a lot of kids whose parents are stretched living in Montgomery County and they do not have access to all the tools, especially with the cuts in the county’s after-school programs. That’s had a huge impact on our community. We can pick up where our county is not able to provide,” Hatten said.