Ben Simmons of North Attleboro, MA received the first-ever J on Epstein Spirit of Tennis Award , which recognizes a ballperson who has distinguished themself in service to this tournament.
BY Peter Gobis, The Sun Chronicle
NEWPORT -- After nine years of shagging loose tennis balls on the Bill Talbert Stadium Court while serving as one of the elite selections to work the International Tennis Hall of Fame championship match as a ball boy six times, recent Bishop Feehan High grad Ben Simmons has been honored for his loyalty and dedication to the sport.
The Shamrocks' No. 1 singles player for each of the past four seasons, North Attleboro's Simmons is the recipient of the inaugural Jon Epstein Spirit of Tennis Award handed out by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the FILA Sporting Goods company.
As the first-ever recipient of the award, Simmons demonstrated "a sense of passion, hard-work and dedication for which Epstein would be proud."
Simmons has served at the International Tennis Hall of Fame for as many seasons as John Isner, the top-ranked American pro tennis player, has played on the courts in Newport. Simmons was presented with a $1,000 scholarship from FILA by Epstein's wife Carol to assist with his collegiate expenses.
Simmons was presented with the award in an on-court ceremony prior to Sunday's championship match, which was won for a fourth time by Isner. The award was created to commemorate the legacy of Epstein, the beloved former president of FILA North America and member of the local Newport community.
The Epstein Spirit of Tennis Award recognizes a ballperson who has distinguished him or herself through outstanding service to the Hall of Fame Tournament, the lone professional grass court tournament in America on the ATP Tour.In being honored, the Stonehill College-bound Simmons was cited as having "demonstrated the exemplary qualities that Epstein carried throughout each day of his life. For the ballperson who brings to their role an unwavering sense of pride, professionalism and dedication -- this award will celebrate their contribution to both this tournament and the sport of tennis as a whole."
Epstein was a member of both the Tennis Hall of Fame Club and Newport Historical Society. Before dying earlier this year, Epstein was a leader throughout two eras of FILA's brand, providing an immense impact on the success and culture of the company.