MPRC Tennis Professionals

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Roger Dowdeswell

Roger Dowdeswell was ranked in the world’s top-60, and competed in Wimbledon, US Open, French Open and the Australian Open many times. He also played Davis Cup for Rhodesia, coached both the US and New Zealand Junior Davis Cup teams, and as Zimbabwe’s National Coach he established a tennis development program involving 20,000 juniors. Roger has taught both John and Patrick McEnroe, as well as many other world class players. Recently, Roger represented Zimbabwe at the World Senior Team Championships in Turkey. Zimbabwe won their section and finished 6th out of a field of twenty teams. In the Individual Senior World Championships, Roger reached the last 16 of the singles, and he and his partner reached the finals of the doubles.  With 30 years of tennis teaching experience, Roger can help optimize the learning curve at any level.

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Bruce Barney

Bruce is a USPTR certified pro since 1981, and a student of world renowned teacher Dennis Van Der Meer. Bruce has more than 30 years of teaching experience in which to craft a program specifically designed for you whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced tennis player. He is an Etcheberry certified trainer in strength, conditioning, and movement, and a training pro for Couples Resorts in Jamaica, and Tennis Ventures in Australia. Bruce is a certified tennis racquet stringer with the USRSA (having worked with Connors, Wilander, McEnroe, Becker and Navratilova). He holds a B.A in Archeology and a M.A. in Theatre.  Bruce teaches several clinics–including the popular Monday and Thursday morning doubles clinics, runs the group lessons program, and maintains a full schedule of private and semi-private lessons. Raise your level of play and NTRP rating with a lesson of fast paced drills, stroke analysis, workout, and fun.

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Marlie Buehler, Tennis Pro

Marlie Buehler was ranked among the top 150 players in the world. She competed in the major competitions—Australian Open, French Open and US Open. Later in 1998, she was chosen to represent the USA on the Margaret Court Cup team in England and became #1 in her age category (45-and-over) after winning. She also runs in the NYC marathon. Marlie is a USPTR certified pro, and is a tennis teacher at the Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club (MPRC) for more than two decades. She is a graduate of Wilson College in Pennsylvania with a degree in economics, and was an all around athlete there too. She teaches players of all ages and levels.

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Olivier Morel, International Touring Coach, Tennis Pro

Olivier Morel was born in France and started playing the ATP Tour in 1991 after finishing high school. Prior to turning pro, he won many junior tournaments in France such as La Coupe Galea, Normandy Championship, Open of Paris and more. Olivier has played some of the biggest international tournaments, including Grand Slams, Grand Prix, Challengers and Futures and was ranked #16 in France.

In 1997, Oliver achieved his ranking on the ATP Tour # 360 in Singles and #163 in Doubles. As a junior, Olivier defeated some of the world’s top junior players (their rankings then): Sebastien Grosjean (#10), Roger Federer (#13), Xavier Malisse (#19), Arnaud Clement (#43), Dominick Herbaty (#52), Julien Boutter (#54) and others. Olivier sometimes travels as a coach on the world major tours, coaching talented tennis professionals such as Ernests Gulbis (US Open 2009), Victoria Azarenka (Australian Open 2010), and also is a tennis practice partner for top professional tennis players, such as for Jelena Jankovic a few years ago. Olivier coaches to all levels and ages. He is a tennis pro at Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club (MPRC) for many years.

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Julien Morel, Tennis Pro

Julien Morel has many years of professional competitive and coaching experience. Julien began coaching ATP/WTA players part-time in 2000 including such players as Mary Pierce at the French Open 2000 (winner), Alexandra Stevenson at the French Open 2001 (3rd round), and the Williams sisters at the US Open 2001 (both in Finals).

Born in Rouen, Normandy France, Julien started playing tennis at the age of 4 and competed in national and international junior tournaments until 1991. Julien turned Pro in 1992 and played on the ATP tour until 2001. Julien best ATP rankings include # 680 in Singles and # 540 in Doubles.

Following his move to New York City in 2001, Julien has taught at various tennis clubs in New York City including Columbus Racquet Club (2001), Tennisport, Inc. (2001– 2008), CityView Racquet Club (2008–2012), and finally joining us here at the Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club (MPRC).

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Pavlos Stephanides, Tennis Pro

Pavlos Stephanides started playing tennis in Marathon, Greece at age five. He played his first regional tournament for the Boys 10 and Under division at age eight, and made it to the semifinals. Throughout the juniors competition, he was consistently ranked within the Top-20 nationally in Greece. He won his first national tennis tournament at age 12 in the Boys 12 and Under division, and was ranked as high as #6 in Greece for the Boys 14 and Under division.

Pavlos moved to the USA’s Long Island when he was 16 years old, and after only six months of competition, reached a ranking of #31 in the Boys 18 and Under division of the USTA’s Eastern section. Pavlos was recruited at age 17 by NCAA Division #1, Temple University, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He played #4 and #6 in singles, and #2 and #3 in doubles consistently throughout his university career, while also winning “Rookie of the Week” honors several times for the A-10 conference during his freshman year. Pavlos earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Sport and Recreation Management from Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.

Pavlos received his USPTA certification after his graduation in 2010, at the age of 21. Before arriving at MPRC to teach tennis, he was a tennis pro for Sportime at Kings Park, NY where he worked with sectionally and nationally ranked juniors. He also has taught tennis offering private lessons in San Diego, California. Prior to that, during a summer break from Temple University, he was a paid tennis instructor at Sportime in Kings Park, NY and he was a volunteer tennis instructor for inner city youth for the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis in Philadelphia, PA.

In addition to teaching tennis at MPRC, Pavlos is also the junior varsity tennis coach at Columbia Grammar and Prep School in Manhattan.

Pavlos is CPR, First Aid, and AED certified.

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Gabriel Slotnick, Tennis Pro

Gabriel Slotnick has both teaching and competitive experience. Gabriel played Division III singles and doubles for Yeshiva University (where he received a degree in accounting), and was named to the All American Conference for three straight years. For two summers during his college career, Gabriel was the head tennis instructor at Camp Lavi, a sports sleep away camp at Lake Como, PA. He also taught adults and juniors at the Broad Street Tennis center in Englewood, NJ. Before joining MPRC, Gabriel was the head instructor at QuickStart’s West Side YMCA site. He currently captains an adult USTA league in Manhattan and has led the team to three consecutive playoff seasons. Gabriel is also a member of the New York Road Runners Club. Since 2005, he has completed more than 80 road races ranging from 5K’s to marathons, including 6 ING New York City marathons and 5 ING Miami marathons. Gabriel is also an avid indoor rower for 13 years, and teaches indoor rowing at the West Side’s YMCA three days a week. Gabriel recently left the corporate world where he worked as an analyst to become a tennis professional.

Gabriel also teaches in Advantage Tennis Clubs’ QuickStart programs. He earned his USPTR certification in Adult Development and 10 & Under, as well as USPTA certification.

Stephen Brandi
Stephen Brandi, Tennis Pro

Stephen Brandi offers years of experience and achievements in coaching adults, USTA Junior ranked players, juniors and all other levels of the game. Previously, he was Co-Director of Tennis at Solaris Sports and Racquet Club, as well as Assistant Director of Tennis at the Westchester Country Club in recent summers. In 2013 he coached the Ladies’ B Team to #1 in their MITL division and in 2014 saw them through to victory in the MITL A team division.

Stephen was also the Assistant Director of Tennis at Shenorock Shore Club in 2011, teaching the Ladies’ Leagues, Men’s Leagues and junior programs. From 2007 to 2012 he taught full-time at Profrom Tennis in Westchester.

A PTR Professional 1 Certified teacher, Stephen also holds a Master Racquet Technician certification, which acknowledges excellence in all aspects of racquet service — stringing, gripping and customizing.

He grew up playing tennis in Florida under the tutelage of his father, Joe Brandi, who coached Pete Sampras to his first US Open and Grand Slam titles in 1990. Stephen was the #1 player of high school tennis in Florida for 3 years. Then he joined his sister, Kristina Brandi, on the WTA tour as a hitting partner and travelling coach. Under his guidance, Kristina achieved a career high WTA world ranking of #27, earning wins over world Top Ten players Jelena Jankovic, Amanda Coetzer, Jelena Dokic and Conchita Martinez.

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Ana Bezjak, Tennis Pro

Ana Bezjak was born in Croatia and turned pro in 2007 at age 17. She toured worldwide from that time until 2012 and achieved a WTA ranking of #665 in doubles. Her training included time at prominent German tennis facility TC Waldsted, as well as working with Julia Goerges and Mona Barthel — both of whom ranked in the Women’s Top 50 — and Torben Beltz, coach of 2016 #1-ranked player Angelique Kerber.

In 2011 she came to the United States and began transitioning from full-time player to coach in Dallas, Texas, teaching students of all ages and levels. She and her friend Neda Kozic developed a program to prepare high-performance junior players for tournament competition. Ana also trained top-ranked WTA doubles player Darija Jurak and has worked with many up-and-coming U.S. juniors.

She joined the staff at Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club in 2015. Ana has her USPTA certification and continues to develop herself as a coach, sharing her knowledge, experiences and talent with all of her clients.

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Neda Kozic, Tennis Pro

Neda Kozic was born in Serbia and took up tennis at age 12 to help on her path to becoming a professional soccer player. She continued with tennis, began touring professionally from 2003- 2011, and achieved a WTA ranking of #399 in singles and #224 in doubles—along with wins over Ana Ivanovic and Mona Barthel. Her training included time at Germany’s TC Waldsted facility, where she was the top female player in their professional leagues.

In 2011 Neda fine-tuned her coaching abilities and met Ana Bezjak, developing a specialized program with her to prepare promising junior players for competition. She has worked with WTA players Jelena Jankovic and Darija Jurak, and Ellie Douglas, one of the top U.S. juniors.

Neda joined the teaching staff at Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club in 2015. She has her USPTA certification and instructs several of our Adult Programs as well as the Quick Start Program (10yrs & younger) where, with her help, some future tennis stars are being trained.

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Steve Hilliard, Tennis Pro

Steve Hilliard was born and raised in Manhattan. He was focused on academics until age 11, when one of his math teachers suggested that the class do “something different.” He discovered tennis, fell in love, and was playing in the Men’s Open at age 18. He became interested in coaching and attended prestigious “work and play” programs – at John Newcomb’s Tennis Academy and the Chris Evert Tennis Academy — assisting head coaches working with adults and juniors.

Steve also taught himself to string racquets by hand, using his own strength to adjust the tension. He has strung for Pete Samperas, Grigor Dimitrov, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Venus and Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic.

After teaching at the Sutton East and Yorkville Tennis Clubs, Steve joined Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club in 2011 as a hitter and the club’s stringer. He continues to provide excellent stringing service to the staff and members, serves as an ideal hitting partner and is a versatile teaching pro, catering to all ages and levels.

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Alexandre Lacroix, Tennis Pro

Alex Lacroix was born in France. He stepped onto a tennis court at age 5, instantly becoming the sport’s biggest fan and eventually joining the ranks of France’s top junior players.

In 2008 he came to the University of Florida to pursue his tennis and academic goals. Playing for the college Division 1 team, Alex was named “All American” 4 years in a row, reached the Top 3 in the U.S. and was designated all-time wins leader in the men’s tennis program. He went on to compete on the ATP Tour, achieving a WTA ranking of 717 in singles and 687 in doubles. On the circuit, he won matches against Jiri Vesely and Jack Sock, two of the world’s Top 100 professional players.

Alex joined the staff at Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club in 2016. Prior experience includes coaching at the John McEnroe Academy at Sports Time on Randalls Island and in Columbia University’s Junior Program. When he is not on the court, Alex works as a Real Estate Agent in Manhattan.