Instead of slap shots, Nassau Coliseum will soon be filled with the sound of serves — professional tennis is returning to Long Island after more than 10 years. The New York Open, an ATP 250 men’s singles and doubles tournament, starts this weekend in Uniondale.
“This is the only ATP tour indoor championship in the United States,” says director Josh Ripple, who moved the tournament from Memphis, Tennessee. “We want this to be a winter tradition in the New York area.”
Two regulation-size courts make up the floor of the arena with a vertical stadium court (reserved seating), a horizontal grandstand court (general admission seating) and a 25-foot-tall VIP structure serving as the barrier, which holds up to 175 people.
This multifaceted event features three parts over the course of the week:
FREE FAN EXPO
Saturday brings a free open house event offering tennis-themed activities in both the arena and exhibition hall.
“It’s family-fun day where people of all ages can enjoy different things,” says expo host David Sickmen, publisher and co-owner of NY Tennis Magazine and LI Tennis Magazine.
On one court, college players will run hourly drills and point challenges for those 10 and older, while fans can watch the pro players practice on the other court every half-hour.
Inside the exhibition hall at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, two mini courts will be open for tennis action for kids younger than 10. A kid zone featuring face-painting, balloon animals, glitter tattoos, clowns and a bounce house will also be offered.
Games of beach tennis in the sand will be held with a DJ providing the soundtrack. Speaker sessions by college coaches and ATP stars are planned, including “The Road to College Tennis” at 11:30 a.m. and “Taking Your Game to the Next Level” at 2:30 p.m. A tennis clothing fashion show hits the runway at 2:15 p.m. Meet-and-greet sessions with tournament players are also part of the festivities.
Qualifying matches start Sunday afternoon followed by evening exhibition bouts featuring senior tour stars James Blake versus John McEnroe, current WTA players Genie Bouchard versus Sloane Stephens and mixed doubles with all four players.
“Playing John is always an adventure,” says Blake, a native New Yorker. “He’s a tennis genius. I love the atmosphere when I play him and how competitive he still is.”
Blake is also looking forward to getting in front of a New York crowd.
“New York tennis fans are some of the best in the world. I love their enthusiasm and excitement,” he says. “They want to see effort and they care about you showing them your best. If you give them that energy, they will give it back to you in spades.”
The main draw starts Monday, featuring some of the best talent in the game, such as John Isner, Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson. One of the competitors is hometown favorite Noah Rubin, 21, of Merrick.
“I’ve been going to Nassau Coliseum my whole life for the Islanders,” Rubin says. “To have the opportunity to play a tournament 10 minutes from my house is just incredible.”
Although he’s a bit smaller in stature (5-9) than some of the other players, Rubin makes up for it with fire and fast feet.
“I’d like to think that my speed is second to none on tour,” he says. “I’m running down balls people could never imagine. I think that always saves me a few points here and there.”
NEW YORK OPEN
WHEN | WHERE Free expo runs 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10; qualifying matches 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, followed by exhibition games at 7:30 p.m.; tournament sessions at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12-17 with finals at 1 p.m. Feb. 18, all at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum
INFO 516-231-4848, newyorkopen.com
TICKETS $18.50-$498.50 with free admission for two kids (12 and younger) with paid adult Feb. 11-16 (upper level only); $15 parking. Expo parking is $5 (free for those who pre-register).