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Young tennis fans test their skills at U.S. Open kids' event

German tennis player Annika Beck teaches a young

German tennis player Annika Beck teaches a young child how to play during Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, on Aug. 23, 2014. Credit: EPA / JASON SZENES

Thousands of young tennis enthusiasts brushed up on their skills, played games and jammed to pop tunes Saturday at the U.S. Open's Arthur Ashe Kids' Day in Flushing Meadows, Queens.

The daylong tennis and music festival at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center honors Ashe, the late tennis legend and humanitarian who won three Grand Slam singles titles, including the 1968 U.S. Open.

The event, presented by Hess and produced by the United States Tennis Association, kicked off the 2014 U.S. Open, which runs Monday through Sept. 8.

Throughout the day, kids and their families took part in free festival attractions across the center's grounds, including a juggling workshop, face painting, hair braiding, storytelling, tennis for children 10 and younger and autograph signing.

Balloon artists and costumed characters like Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star and Dora the Explorer and Diego roamed the grounds.

"This is the best place ever," said Vinay Ruparelia, 7, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, holding his oversized tennis ball and joined by his parents and 5-year-old brother, Sahil. "There are a lot of nice kids' things here."

Players of all skill levels tested their agility, running and tennis game at obstacle courses, while others watched pros practice.

"I liked when I hit the ball against the wall," said Paz De La Torre, 7, of Hoboken, New Jersey, who enjoyed the obstacle course.

The festival also featured a free concert with up-and-coming performers.

For Tatiana Henderson, 26, of Manhattan, it was a chance to introduce her 6-year-old daughter, Aniyah Gaston, to an international sport. "She's not too familiar with tennis, but it was a way to expose her to it," Henderson said.

The two-hour tennis and music show was hosted by singer and actress China Anne McClain and Nickelodeon's "Figure It Out" show host Jeff Sutphen inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The ticketed stadium show featured exhibition matches and skills competitions with tennis stars, including Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Musical performances by Long Island's teen sensation Madison Beer, country star Hunter Hayes, and others took center stage.

Celebrity fitness trainer and choreographer Shaun T also made an appearance. The show will be broadcast on CBS Sunday at noon.

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