When Ben Shapiro walked away from the 2016 UAA Men's Tennis Championship, his University of Rochester playing career came to an end, but it was merely a transition in his tennis career.
Soon after graduation, Shapiro embarked on a trip as a coach for Tennis:Europe, a company that runs tennis trips for teenagers in Europe, California, and Hawaii. Each trip involves a lot of practice and tournaments with sightseeing mixed in. "I thought it would be an interesting summer job and an excellent way to get to see some places that I may not have otherwise ever visited," Shapiro said.
The first stop was a week in Barcelona, Spain in the suburb of Castelldefels, home of Academia Sánchez-Casal (Sanchez-Casal Tennis Academy), one of the most famous tennis academies in the world. After competing in tournaments there and practicing at various other clubs in the area, the group spent the end of the week in the heart of the city, including Camp Nou, home of one of the world's most famous soccer clubs FC Barcelona. They also visited Sagrada Família, a Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudí, and a well-known pedestrian mall called La Rambla.
L: Shapiro at Camp Nou in Barcelona; R: Shapiro at Karlštejn Castle in Czech Republic
The next set of tournaments were at a tennis club in Nice and two tennis clubs in Monaco with some play at the Monte Carlo Country Club, home of the Association of Tennis Professional's (ATP) Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament each April. "There was a lot of driving around the French Riviera and while the roads were very narrow and tough to navigate, the landscape in southern France was magnificent," commented Shapiro.
After 10 days in France, Shapiro and the group headed to Prague and with tournaments there only two-day events, they had plenty of time to see the city. "There is no shortage of really old buildings here," he stated. "That is cool to begin with, but the fact that they are still so impressive today makes them even more interesting to see in person."
Photo: Shapiro in Monte Carlo
Unfortunately, on July 14, just days after Shapiro and those on the trip were there, 84 people in Nice, France were killed when a cargo truck was driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day.
"I was initially spooked to hear about what happened in Nice," Shapiro said. "When the photos and videos starting coming out from places I had been standing a few days earlier, it was a major reality check. I thought about how we were right on the Promenade des Anglais on a beautiful Sunday summer afternoon. France was in the finals of the Euro 2016 tournament that evening so people were everywhere waving flags, cheering, and singing. That area was so full of happiness and celebration. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about what a different scene it must have become that night."
The 25-day trip featured five countries (Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, and Czech Republic) with plenty of tennis and great memories. "I was very lucky to get to work with four excellent coaches and just really quality people, and I enjoyed spending time with them throughout the trip," Shapiro said. "We were all from very different backgrounds, with me from New York and the others from St. Louis, Ireland, Poland, and the Czech Republic, but all five of us played college tennis in the U.S. and gelled very well, which made the trip even better."
There is one non-tennis trip on Shapiro's summer schedule, a road trip to Montana, Idaho, and Utah for about a month. Then it is back to tennis as he recently accepted the assistant coaching position for the men's tennis team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "I loved playing at Rochester and following what all the other schools were doing as well," Shapiro said. "I am very excited to be coaching and to continue being involved with Division III tennis."