39° Good Evening
39° Good Evening
SportsTennisUS Open

U.S. Open: Meet three Long Islanders who aid players and fans

Dr. Joshua Dines, right, with U.S. tennis pro

Dr. Joshua Dines, right, with U.S. tennis pro John Isner. Dines is an orthopedic surgeon from Southampton and former U.S. Davis Cup team physician who will be working throughout the U.S. Open the next two weeks.

Good for what ails them

DR. JOSHUA DINES, Southampton

Orthopedic surgeon

Dr. Joshua Dines isn’t part of the U.S. Open work force, but he does has his hands, literally, into the game of tennis. He and his father. Dr. David Dines, orthopedic surgeons, have been advising, treating and operating on big-time tennis players for years.

“My father is a tennis player who combined love of the sport with speciality of shoulder surgery,” Joshua Dines said. “He had worked with the Mets. His reputation plus his love of tennis got him involved.”

Joshua Dines was team doctor for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 2009 to 2014, taking over from his father. Both are avid tennis fans and Joshua tries to play weekly. Through his association with the Davis Cup team Joshua has built friendships and professional relationships with the top American players like Andy Roddick, John Isner, Sam Querrey and the Bryan Brothers.

“Andy Roddick is a good friend, treated him for injuries for years,” Joshua said. “Fortunately, he never needed surgery. Sam Querrey, I operated on his elbow two years ago and he made it to semifinals at Wimbledon this summer.”

Most players can avoid surgery, according to Joshua, when treated with rest/physical therapy, injections like cortisone or PRPs (platelet rich plasma),and anti-inflammatory medicines.

“The lower extremity injuries, they get tend to be more acute, like ankle sprains,” Joshua said. “Upper extremity is overuse thing. Tennis elbow, rotator cuff tendinitis, patellar tendinitis.”

Elbow tendinitis in accomplished players is a bit different from that incurred by amateur players, according to Joshua. “Ironically, good tennis players get golfer’s elbow, which is on the inside of your elbow,” he said. “Bad tennis players get pain on the outside.”

Two players in this year’s Open visited Joshua this week, though privacy issues prevent him from divulging who they are. But he’ll be attending the Open, and for those players with which he has a relationship, he’ll always be on call.

He meets and greets


Ambassador Program

You know those genial people who greet you as you walk into the Tennis Center each day?

Chances are they are U.S. Open ambassadors, and for the last seven years Daryl Rivera has been part of the program.

Rivera works for the state office of mental health in Suffolk County Family Court, a job that demands — among other things — tact and an optimistic outlook, something he brings to the ambassador program, where he is now a supervisor.

“I was playing tennis at Cold Spring Country Club and talked with the person who created the program and told her I’d give it a shot,” Rivera said. “It’s a meet and greet taken to another level. Engaging people and making sure they have a wonderful experience.”

Ambassadors have complete knowledge of the Tennis Center, are aware of the competitive program and can direct fans to any court, facility or match they are looking for. But it’s more. The ambassadors aren’t just providers of information.

“I do engage customers, welcome them to the U.S. Open, and find out if they have any questions,” Rivera said. “If I see you have a phone, I’ll take your picture. It’s everyone. Everybody’s a VIP here.”

Rivera had a particularly moving experience last year. He said he was raised in the Little Flower Children’s Services orphanage in Wading River and has a particular fondness, and concern, for families.

“Highlight was last year, during quarterfinals when we let people into the grounds for free. There are juniors going on, doubles going on,” Rivera said. “The program manager said they had 700 to 800 tickets to Ashe Stadium to give out. We gave them to our ambassadors. I told them a family walking around here who maybe wouldn’t have the opportunity, maybe never will have the opportunity to see a match in Ashe.

“I’d seen a family and asked if they were going to see a match. They said ‘No, no I can’t afford that.’ But if you had a ticket, would you go in? ‘No, no, I can’t afford it.’ So I give out four, five tickets and they were literally crying, ‘My God, I can’t believe we are going into the stadium.’ ”

She’ll find what you lost


Guest Services

For the last seven years, Janet O’Connor has been helping forgetful U.S. Open fans recover what they’ve left behind at the National Tennis Center.

She’s in lost and found. And there’s a lot lost and a lot found every year during the nearly three weeks of the Open.

“Dentures, hearing aids, canes, wheelchairs, strollers,” O’Connor said. “I can’t figure out how you come in with a baby in a stroller and leave without the stroller.”

And a wheelchair? “Yes, a wheelchair.”

O’Connor took the seasonal job at the Open thinking that as a tennis fan she would put in some time each day and get a chance to see matches up close and personal. That plan quickly took a detour.

“I always liked tennis, liked to watch it, and what better opportunity than being able to work here and be able to watch at same time,” O’Connor said. “But as the years went by, we are so busy I don’t get out there very often. I’m watching on television while I’m inside.”

There are 700,000 or so fans attending the Open each year, and they leave behind hundreds of items. When they are turned in, they are catalogued in a computer, tagged and stored.

“Cellphones are the biggest thing,” O’Connor said. “Our success rate for cellphones is almost 100 per cent. I charge them, I go on to the last people called, I go on social media to try to identify the people who own the phone. I’m hoping everyone has their iPhone turned on. People will say, ‘Did you find my phone, my whole life is in it.’ When we have it, they’ll jump across the desk with joy.”

The amount and variety of lost items is impressive, but they include mundane items like railroad tickets, MetroCards, even the tennis tickets.

“Wallets, valuables, jewelry, wedding bands. Big thing is umbrellas. First rainy day we get about 100 umbrellas,” O’Connor said. “Merchandise, they put it down and forget it’s there. I do find that people here are very honest. People will say I just found this bag and it’s loaded with men’s shirts.”

It’s not just fans who are forgetful. The players can be as absent-minded.

“Players lose rackets,” O’Connor said. “A certain female high-profile player loses her shoes or her iPad every year. Her father comes in to claim that stuff.”

New York Sports