United States Tennis Association, the national governing body for the sport of tennis, is shining a spotlight on its youth tennis leagues during the 2019 U.S. Open, and two local teams are participating in events.
Children from the Suffolk County Junior Tennis League in Smithtown and the Sportime League in Kings Park are conducting on-court tennis demonstrations for fans.
The opportunity for young athletes to play a role in one of the world’s highest-attended sporting events has become a key component of the sport’s success. Suffolk’s founder and executive director, Joe Arias, was unavailable for comment this week, but national manager for USTA’s youth brand Net Generation, Leah Friedman, shared her insights.
“Our on-court experiences allow us to celebrate our coaches, who are offering tennis in their communities and going above and beyond to impact their players,” she said. “Joe Arias and Suffolk County continue to inspire and engage their community. We want the next generation of greats leaving the U.S. Open with a lifetime of memories.”
Madison De Cicco, 8, of Smithtown, tossed the coin Aug. 26 prior to the opening day match between Denis Kudla and Janko Tipsarević and then posed for a photo with the two players. The Suffolk County league delivered a demo session to fans prior to that match. On Monday, Sept. 2, the youth league at Sportime in Kings Park will put on a demo show on Court 12.
Now in its third year, the program, called Kids on Court, has expanded each year with 60 groups nationwide participating. The demonstration program is part of the USTA’s youth tennis brand, Net Generation. The nonprofit organization expects to give more than 1,300 youth tennis players from across the country the opportunity to play on the iconic courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the first 10 days of the 2019 tournament.
The youth demonstrations, called activations, will take place prior to sessions on each of the U.S. Open show courts: Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand and Court 17 as well as Courts 5, 11 and 12. They will also be held in Arthur Ashe Stadium prior to four selected night sessions.
Net Generation wants to make it easier for kids and their parents to learn about tennis and get into the game in schools, parks and tennis clubs across the country. The movement is designed to appeal to kids ages 5-18. For more information, visit netgeneration.usta.com.