It’s called the New York Tennis Expo, but this year, the organizers are seeking to grow the event beyond its namesake sport.
They’ve added a New York Islanders slap shot booth, a New York Riptide lacrosse shootout and a football toss to the Activity Zone. “We’re also adding a mechanical bull in the expo hall,” says Brian Coleman, New York Tennis Expo communications director. The bull can be slowed down for younger ages. “Obviously, we still have all the stuff for tennis enthusiasts, but we’re trying to expand the reach of the event.”
The seventh annual expo, held Feb. 9 at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, kicks off the New York Open men’s tournament, which runs through Feb. 16. Organizers expect more than 5,000 expo visitors.
Here are six ways to enjoy the day:
Watch the qualifying tournament. The expo coincides with New York Open qualifying matches in the stadium adjacent to the expo hall, so expo guests can also watch the professional tennis players compete for free.
Attend skills clinics. Clinics will be open to all ages and skill levels. Hofstra University tennis players will lead the clinic from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; Adelphi team members will lead the 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. session; Sportime instructors and Roslyn High School players will lead the 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. session; Nassau Community College will lead the 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. clinic.
A Pop Tennis clinic will be held during the 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. time slot; Pop Tennis is played on shorter tennis courts with solid rackets and lower compression tennis balls.
While the expo will have some tennis rackets available, organizers recommend bringing your own. Advance clinic registration isn’t necessary. A private clinic prior to the official opening of the expo will focus on children and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, says Chris Savino, chairman of the board of Pop Earth, which offers services to Long Island kids with special needs and is the Expo’s title sponsor.
Play in the Activity Zone. The Activity Zone will feature the aforementioned multisport activities, as well as a sand court for beach tennis. A speed-serve booth will let players clock how fast they serve. A live band and DJ will entertain. A photo booth is new this year. A kids’ area features a 10-and-under mini tennis court, bounce house, face painting and balloon animals. Organizers recommend kids bring their own rackets.
Hobnob with players. Hannah Berner, a former professional and collegiate tennis player and cast member of the Bravo TV series “Summer House,” is scheduled to speak on the first of the day’s two panels — at 11 a.m. — as well as sign autographs. Nick Bollettieri, a tennis coach who has worked with Andre Agassi and Monica Seles, will lead both panels — the second is at 2 p.m. — which will address tennis topics and youth sports. He will also participate in meet-and-greets.
Three New York Open players will meet fans. Jack Sock will speak on the 11 a.m. panel and sign autographs at 11:30 a.m. Brayden Schnur will speak on the 2 p.m. panel and sign autographs at 2:30 p.m. Reilly Opelka will be a part of the New York Open Draw Ceremony and take part in a meet-and-greet following the ceremony.
Peruse the Exhibitor’s Showcase. More than 70 exhibitors will showcase businesses and services including tennis clubs, academies and camps.
Participate in the Tournament Draw Ceremony. The draw ceremony for the New York Open takes place at 12:45 p.m., and attendees will have the chance to participate. The ceremony determines who plays against who when tournament play begins, says David Sickmen, founder of the New York Tennis Expo. In past years, for instance, players’ names were placed in a basket and kids from the audience picked them, Sickmen says.
New York Tennis Expo
WHEN | WHERE 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Tpke., Uniondale
INFO Free admission; $5 parking fee. To get a free parking pass, register in advance at 2020NYTennisExpo.EventBrite.com. For more information about the expo, call 516-409-4444. For information about the tournament, visit newyorkopen.com.