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University News

Georgian Court University Welcomes Royalty for Unique Sport

Royalty court tennis Prince

(left to right) Samantha Fernandez; Matthew Slazyk; Coach Dino Raso; Coach Amy Rizzo; GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.; His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex; Oliver Madrid; Randy “RJ” Myles; Rob Whitehouse, head pro at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia and GCU; USCTPF Board Member Richard J. Moroscak Jr.; USCTA President James W. Zug Jr.; USCTPF Chairman William F. McLaughlin Jr.

His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Visited Georgian Court University and Played Court Tennis as Part of a Two Week Program of Engagements, in Support of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA

Last week, Georgian Court University hosted His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, for a short visit at the university’s historic Lakewood campus.

Raising Awareness of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA

Prince Edward greeted by campus
An excited group of students, faculty, and staff greeted His Royal Highness upon his arrival.

The visit formed part of a two-week national program of engagements in support of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA and included an afternoon of Court Tennis matches at the iconic GCU court.

Following his own personal The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award journey, HRH has embarked on a series of Court Tennis (also known as Real Tennis in the United Kingdom) matches, as part of a program of activity to raise awareness and support for the Award in the United States and around the world. His Royal Highness developed a passion for the sport more than 30 years ago, when completing his own Gold Award.

His Royal Highness serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. The Award is comprised of three levels (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) and four sections (Voluntary Service, Skills, Physical Recreation, and Adventurous Journey). Participants complete all four sections at each level in order to achieve their Award. At the Gold level, participants also complete a Residential Project.

Elizabeth Higgins-Beard, Chief Executive Officer of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA says: “As The Award comes to America, we now can offer the world’s leading youth achievement award to our own young people. Ask anyone from abroad about the Award, and likely they will tell you it celebrates what young people are capable of. For involved young adults, the Award challenges them to reflect, dig a bit deeper, and perhaps try something new.”

Active Visit Included Matches of Rare Sport of Court Tennis

RJ Myles and Prince Edward play court tennis
Soccer player RJ Myles and Prince Edward play court tennis.

Prince Edward’s visit to GCU was one of dozens of engagements across nine cities in 12 days. During the visit, HRH is also meeting and celebrating the achievements of current Award participants and Award holders. The visit also supports the U.S. Court Tennis Association (USCTA) and U.S. Court Tennis Preservation Foundation (USCTPF).

Three intense Court Tennis matches were viewed by about 100 attendees during the visit to GCU. In the first doubles match, HRH played with William F. McLaughlin Jr., chairman of the USCTPF; Richard J. Moroscak Jr., member of the USCPTF Board of Directors; and James W. Zug Jr., president of the USCTA. In the second and third matches, HRH played with GCU men’s soccer coach Dino Raso and women’s lacrosse coach Amy Rizzo, and four GCU student-athletes: Oliver Madrid, Egg Harbor City, NJ; Matthew Slazyk, Peotone, IL; Randy “RJ” Myles, Manahawkin, NJ; and Samantha Fernandez, Toms River, NJ.

“I’m super grateful and fortunate to have been able to take advantage of this great opportunity I was given,” said Oliver, who has only been playing the sport for about nine months, since he first came to GCU. “His Royal Highness is a very genuine gentleman, so it made it very comforting to play with and against him.”

Celebrating Georgian Court’s Historic Court

USCTPF Chairman Bill McLaughlin
USCTPF Chairman Bill McLaughlin

Georgian Court University’s court tennis court was built in 1899 and is the second-oldest of 11 courts in the United States. It is also the only U.S. court located on a university campus. The USCTPF funded renovations at the GCU court 20 years ago and continues to underwrite a court tennis pro who is on campus two times a week. Some of GCU’s most avid court tennis participants are actually soccer players.

“The court tennis court here is an incredible asset that hasn’t been used to the extent that other courts have been used, so it hasn’t seen the damage or wear and tear that some others have,” said USCTPF chairman Bill McLaughlin.

GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., granted HRH an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree for his charitable work through the Award and other works, acknowledging him as GCU’s newest alumnus. HRH presented GCU with a signed Court Tennis racket.

About The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA

His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
  • The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA is the world’s leading youth achievement Award, available to all young people aged 14-24, regardless of their background, culture, physical ability, skills and interests.
  • It is delivered around the world by schools, colleges, universities, employers, social clubs, uniformed and non-uniformed youth organizations, young offenders’ institutions, religious organizations, sports clubs, and a range of other civic organizations.
  • Founded in 1956 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, the Award enables young people to learn, develop and thrive through non-formal education, equipping them for life.
  • It challenges participants, pushing them to their personal limits and helping them to discover they are capable of so much more than they ever thought possible.
  • Since its launch over 60 years ago, millions of young people have participated and received Awards, with millions more benefiting from its impact in communities around the world.
  • More than 1.3 million young people have participated in the Award in the past year, across 130+ countries and territories.
    Over 700 young people have had the opportunity to participate in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in the USA.
  • Whilst it’s in its infancy, Award USA is growing due to rising interest in and demand for customized extracurricular activities and activities that allow young people to discover their passions as well as to connect with their communities.

Find out more about The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA by visiting https://usaward.org/

To view more photos from the event, visit our Prince Edward Visits GCU photo album. Photos by Russ DeSantis.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,200 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 14 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by Money.com and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at HazletGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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