When Cellemme, who had already made non-playing appearances at last year’s U.S. Open and Shea Stadium as a Federer double, met Marc Rosett, a life-long tennis teaching pro and coach, the first two pieces of the puzzle were in place. When Peter Kaplan, owner of Eastside Tennis Academy and Grassmere Inn in Westhampton Beach offered his facilities to the pair as the home for their intensive training, the picture was complete.
Rosett, who as a young teaching pro in New England, had already taken a promising 16-year-old junior from the ranks of beginner to those of a professional, proposed attempting to complete the project in two months. Cellemme, already an accomplished baseball player and versatile athlete, eagerly agreed.
Training started in mid-March with long nights at the gym. The treadmill and exercise bicycle were the apparatus of choice used to get Cellemme out of his off-season funk and into pre-season shape for his first and future tennis season. Sessions on an indoor racquetball court, pantomiming his swing and form, knocked countless hours off the time he’d have to spend in the spring once he stepped onto a real tennis court.
On May 3, the pair traveled out to Eastside Tennis Academy for their first two-day training session. The indoor training had paid off. With the form already partially ingrained, Cellemme started hitting the ball with some control and consistency. The rest, as they say, is history (or history in the making) as over the next eight weeks, Cellemme added a topspin backhand, spin serve, and volley to his forehand.
Exactly two months after the completion of his first training session at the Academy, Cellemme donned the orange Nike shirt and white Federer headband, and walked down Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Throngs of kids and teenagers flocked toward him to have their picture taken with their “idol.”
When large groups of teenage girls stopped, stared, and began whispering to each other, Cellemme was reminded that his physical resemblance to Federer, right down to his 6’1” frame, was intact. This thrilled him since his physical appearance combined with his newly acquired tennis skills would cause him to be any casting director’s dream candidate for the part of Federer.
In a world of chance and fortune, the pieces of the puzzle, had come together beautifully to bring this project to a successful conclusion. The pieces of this puzzle had all fit together – the pieces of this puzzle were all happy.