Meet NTC Pros

Whitney Kraft - Director of Tennis
Whitney brings more than 25 years of tennis experience to the National Tennis Center. He is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, where he was an All-American singles player in 1982 and was inducted into the FAU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. As a tennis player, Whitney was a four-time National Mixed Open Champion and was the USPTA International Over 45 doubles champion in 2006. His tennis industry affiliations include serving as District President of the USPTA and District Director for the USTA, as well as City Liaison for First Serve of Broward County (Fla.). For the past eight years he has served as Tournament Director for both the USTA Boys’ 14 Clay Court National Championships and the USTA Open National Clay Court Championships.

Rod Bailey
Rod grew up in Macon, Ga., where he excelled on his local tennis high school team. He received a full tennis scholarship to the Georgia Military College, where he played No. 1 for two years. Rod is certified to teach tennis by the USPTA and works with all levels and ages providing tennis instruction. Before coming to the National Tennis Center, he worked at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami, Fla., and the New Canaan Racquet Club in Connecticut, and he was the head teaching professional at the Healy Pointe Country Club in Macon for seven years.

Alex Bessarabov​
Alex was born in Belarus but grew up on Long Island. He started playing tennis at the age of 12 and went on to make varsity during his freshman year in high school. While he was playing at Farmingdale State College, which went on to become Conference Champions in 2011-2013, he was voted 2010 Rookie of the Year and 2012 Championships MVP. Alex is PTR certified as well as 10-and-under certified, so that he can work with all ages.

Cathie Delaney
Cathie has been teaching at the National Tennis Center since 1989. She grew up in Port Washington, N.Y., and attended C. W. Post–Long Island University, where she played No. 1 singles. After college, she played on the USTA Penn Circuit tour from 1986 to 1988 before becoming certified by the USPTA as a P1 teaching instructor. In addition, Cathie has been selected by the Tennis Industry Association to participate in the Cardio Masters Programs and is an instructor for 10 and Under Tennis classes, junior development classes and daytime group lessons. Along with her other teaching duties, she coordinates the daytime playing leagues during the fall-spring months.

Cynthia Dewi Yonathan
Cynthia was born in Indonesia and competed as a member of the Indonesian National Tennis Team, participating in numerous international junior and women’s events in both Asia and Europe. She graduated from Widya Mandala University in Indonesia in 2001. Cynthia was a national champion in the USTA National Indoor Women’s Doubles and silver ball in Mixed Doubles in 2008. She has been teaching at the National Tennis Center since 2005. 

Nouri El Hajjar
Nouri was born in Morocco, where he learned to play tennis. He is certified both by the PTR of Tennis Teachers and Coaches and by Tennis Dynamics. He has been teaching all age groups at the National Tennis Center since 2006. He is active in instructing players and developing their skills in 10 and Under Tennis and the School Tennis programs. He enjoys working with children and takes pride in helping them improve their tennis skills. He strongly believes in teaching high-quality basic techniques and methods. He keeps current by studying the tennis industry developments advocated by top-rated coaches and incorporates these teachings into his daily instructions. He brings to his students a love of the game and advanced instruction, which have resulted in his students’ achieving significant improvement and the ability to successfully compete within their age groups.

Petros Georgiou
Petros was born and raised in Flushing, NY. He has been playing at the National Tennis Center since he was eight years old. He attended St. John's University. Petros is a certified USPTA pro and has certifications for 10 & Under tennis and Cardio tennis. Since 2012 he has been working at the National Tennis Center, where he coaches all age groups and classes ranging from 10 & Under through tournament-level juniors and adult classes. He brings to his students a lot of tennis knowledge and personal tennis experience from playing at very high levels as a junior. He is fluent in both English and Greek.


Reiko Giffords
Reiko has been an instructor at the National Tennis Center since 1998. She is certified to teach tennis by the USPTA/USPTR and is a certified wheelchair tennis instructor. When not teaching tennis, Reiko works in the Programs Office, where she organizes and coordinates junior and adult tennis programs, adult weekend tennis camps, adult round-robin daytime tournaments and seasonal mini-camps. Reiko played college tennis growing up in Kiryu, Japan. She is fluent in English, Japanese and Korean.

Ilyar Khammadov
Ilyar was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. As a part of the Uzbekistan National Tennis Team, he participated in various international junior and men’s tournaments in Europe and Asia. At the age of 18, Ilyar entered professional training in Louis Bruguera’s tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain. He graduated with honors in finance from Auburn Montgomery University, where he was on the NAIA national championship title-winning tennis team in 2006. Ilyar specializes in developing players of different ages and abilities. He is known for implementing conditioning routines and Cardio Tennis to benefit players’ overall performance on court. Besides English, Ilyar speaks Russian and Spanish.

Aki Takayama-Wolfson
Aki has been teaching tennis at the National Tennis Center for 15 years and is a USPTA/USPTR-certified professional. An ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tournament Director and a certified High Performance coach, she was a Girls’ 12 and under national coach for three years. In addition, Aki received the prestigious USPTA Heroes award for accomplishments with wheelchair tennis in 2005 and the USTA Service to People with Disabilities award in 2008. Aki graduated from New York University with a master’s degree in fine arts.

Justyna Wereszka
Justyna Wereszka, a native of Katowice, Poland, received a master's degree in education from St. John's University in 2008, and served as the graduate assistant coach of the St. John's Division I women's tennis program. Justyna was ranked as one of the top juniors players in Poland. She received her master's degree in education and journalism from Silezian University in Poland and began her career as a teaching pro in her hometown. Justyna currently volunteers for the Polish-American Sports Association and competes in open tournaments. She is USPTR and USTA certified coach, and enjoys teaching 10 and Under Tennis, along with juniors and adults of all abilities.

Agnes Wiski-Pagnotta
As a player, Agnes was No. 1 in the Eastern Section and a Top 10 national junior player. In addition to her success as a singles player, she also holds many national doubles titles. She received a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where she gained valuable experience playing collegiate tennis. She continued her tennis career by competing on the  professional level, obtaining a WTA ranking. She serves as a PTR and USPTA P1-certified teaching professional as well as a certified High Performance coach. Continuing her education, she became certified in Sports Science Levels 1-3. She works at the National Tennis Center with the High Performance, Tournament Training and Adult programs.