Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day continues to evolve just like the tournament that follows it.
While the Arthur Ashe Stadium speakers boomed with music from chart-topping performers, the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center were host to a variety of entertainment options and tennis-related fun. Between youth tennis clinics and games for the younger players to an obstacle course and a beat-the-pro challenge, Kids’ Day had something for all attendees.
Now in its 19th year, the annual event reaped the benefits of phase one of the US Open’s transformation.
Throughout the grounds, the stars were out in full force. On the newly remodeled Court 5, Nike Tennis invited budding American stars Madison Keys and Stefan Kozlov and international standouts Nick Kyrgios and Lucie Safarova to participate in boys vs. girls doubles. Fans had the chance to see their favorite players thanks to the new viewing area that lines the practice courts, while Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Granstand and Court 17 all held practices for the game’s top players.
Peter Botler, a longtime tennis fan, brought his daughter, Kristen, to Kids’ Day, and they got the chance to see the likes of Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Roger Federer within minutes of stepping onto the grounds.
“It’s nice to see them up close,” Peter said. “The pros participate and goof off and you can see them in a different light, which is a nice thing. I think it brings people a little closer to them.”
The Botlers made the trip from Connecticut to see the stadium show and catch the action on the grounds. Since Kristen is usually in school during the main draw, Kids’ Day her only opportunity to get a feel for the US Open.
“I like how interactive [Kids’ Day] is,” Kristen said. “You can see all the players and walk around, it’s really fun. They look so different in person.”
To make Kids’ Day a success, the USTA relies on volunteers to greet fans, provide assistance and put on the tennis-themed event. After recently retiring, Kids’ Day greeter Joseph Cocopardo has been spending his free time doing volunteer work. Coming out to support Kids’ Day was a way to work with children and give back and grow the sport.
“Just the fact that these kids are here,” Cocopardo said, “It’s like walking into Yankee Stadium for the first time. I think that’s how a lot of these kids will feel about tennis.”