THE Kooyong Foundation launched its first Corporate Pro-Am last week to rave reviews, with a cavalcade of tennis stars taking part.

Some of Australia’s best tennis players took part, including 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur, 2017 Australian Open doubles winner John Peers, Daria and Luke Saville, Paul McNamee and Sam Groth.

The Peers family is Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club royalty, so it was fitting that John was drafted into the winning team, Shadforth Financial Group, which pipped Auschar HeaTbead Hackers in the final.

They were two of 14 corporate teams that played on the day, with each getting the opportunity to have a professional player and Kooyong Foundation scholarship-holder join their squad.

For Campbell Sorell, a 30-year club member who captained the triumphant Shadforth Financial Group team, it was a dream come true to share the stadium court with someone of Peers’ stature.

“John’s a magician on the court … you see and read so much about him, then just to actually be there to witness it first-hand was quite surreal,” Sorell said.

“He is a very, very gracious man, and family man, and just wants to be the best version of himself.

“The great thing about the Foundation is it’s giving kids opportunities with education – and not just to rely on tennis – because that will help them become better people and have more sustained success beyond the game.”

Joining Sorell and Peers in the winning squad were Kooyong Foundation scholarship-holder Oliver Elmslie, Lincoln Rego, Anthony Coxon and Steve McGlaughlin.

The tennis players weren’t the only celebrities sweating it out on the grass-courts, with comedians Ash Williams, Dave Hughes and Elliot Loney – a tennis player impersonator – on one of the teams.

The rare chance to play alongside a professional tennis player appealed to many of the participants, but they also wanted to show their support for the Foundation.

A group of Kooyong LTC members launched the Foundation more than two decades ago and it has since raised almost $3 million in donations to help a generation of aspirational kids.

Among the players to benefit are John and Sally Peers, Marc Polmans, Jason Kubler, Destanee Aiava, Andrew Whittington and Omar Jasika.

But there are also many success stories of less-familiar names, such as Corey Clarke.

Clarke rose from small NSW town Laurieton and overcame various setbacks to attend Scotch College and earn a tennis scholarship at the University of Arkansas.

Those opportunities became possible with the support of the Kooyong and Goolagong foundations, something board member Brian Cooney is proud about.

“The grassroots tennis community knows what the Kooyong Foundation does and knows how successful it’s been,” Cooney said.

“We’re trying to help people make the best of themselves, and we’re not after Roger Federer – we’re offering kids an opportunity through tennis.

“We’re hoping to raise awareness for the Foundation through this event and we’d like it to become an event on the tennis calendar that everyone wants to play.”

By Marc McGowan.