Pint-size tennis aficionados will have a chance to meet pros, brush up on skills and jam to kid-friendly pop tunes Saturday at the 16th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. The daylong tennis and music festival kicks off the 2011 U.S. Open, which runs from Monday through Sept. 11.
The event, presented by Hess and produced by the United States Tennis Association, honors tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Ashe made it his mission to instill values in and develop the character of young people through tennis and education.
"Arthur Ashe Kids' Day appeals to kids of all ages," says Pamela Carton, the event's associate producer. "They can have fun, play tennis, see their favorite music and tennis stars all in one place."
WHAT TO EXPECT
Since nearly 30,000 people attended last year, expect a large crowd. From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., players of all skill levels can take part in free festival attractions and interactive games staged across the center's grounds.
New this year is "10 and Under Tennis," which uses rackets, balls and courts sized for kids ages 10 and younger. About 30 hitting stations will be set up for younger participants.
Beginners can test their agility, balance, running and tennis skills at an obstacle course or try speed tennis with restricted-flight foam balls.
More skilled players can clock the speed of their serves with two radar guns and practice target hitting on a fast-paced court. For advanced players, there's an opportunity to play against some of the top touring and teaching professionals.
Other attractions include a juggling workshop, face painting, hair braiding and autograph signing.
If you want to take a break from all the action, watch tennis pros practice as they prepare for the U.S. Open or listen to up-and-coming performers such as Girls Nite Out, Action Item, Jacob Latimore, Nickelodeon's Fresh Beat Band, Love Jones Girlz and New Hollow, who will be performing on the Hess Get Pumped Up stage.
THE STADIUM SHOW
A two-hour live tennis and music show hosted by TV personalities and actors La La Anthony and Quddus starts at 1 p.m. inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. Tickets ($10-$20) are required.
The show features exhibition matches and skills competitions with reigning U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal, world No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, former U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick and 2010 U.S. Open wheelchair champion David Wagner, as well as former world champions Serena and Venus Williams and others.
Musical performances by Jason Derulo, Cody Simpson, Diggy Simmons, Jessica Jarrell, Greyson Chance and Mindless Behavior will take center stage. Knicks player Carmelo Anthony and actor Bradley Cooper will make appearances.
The show also will be broadcast on CBS Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m.
16th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day
WHEN | WHERE 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing
INFO 866-673-6849, arthurashekidsday.com
ADMISSION Free for festival; $10-$20 for stadium show