Tag Archives: Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Votes split on USTA expansion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of USTA

The votes are in on the much-debated expansions to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and the results are mixed.

Half of the six voting Community Boards are in favor of the US Tennis Association (USTA) moving 0.68 acres out of its current property — so long as the organization meets certain conditions set by each board.

Board 6 voted 21-6 and Board 8 26-8 in favor on Wednesday, March 13; Communty Board 3 voted 33-1 against the next night. The six advisory decisions will now go to Borough President Helen Marshall, who has 60 days to decide on the expansions. Marshall’s decision then goes to the City Council and the City Planning Commission.

Marshall will hold a forum on the plan April 4 at Borough Hall. The Borough Board, led by Marshall, will vote on the plan April 8.

Two boards voted against the proposal last week, one of which could switch to yes if USTA meets nine regulations — similar to those set by other boards — including setting up a conservancy for the park. Community Board 7 voted yes, but with eight conditions, on March 11.

Each board has recommended USTA discount court prices for seniors and children, and invest in the park’s crumbling facilities.

“Community Board review was the first step in a multi-layered governmental review process that also includes the borough president, City Planning, City Council and State Legislature,” said Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue as we move through the different phases.”

Parkland advocates against the plan, however, say they’re going to continue informing residents of the downside of the plans. “I think the community boards’ vote will have no impact whatsoever on the BP’s vote or the City Council members,” said NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft. “They seem perfectly willing to give away additional parkland to this private business for concessions.”

 

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State senator wants to landmark Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Landmark the park.

That’s what State Senator Tony Avella wants for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to block development in the area.

These include an entertainment center at Willets Point — an area that is technically parkland — along with expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium.

The projects are either inside or on the edge of the park, but only the proposed soccer arena would require replacement parkland to be installed somewhere relatively close to Flushing Meadows. Normal park users, however, will not get the same access to this new park, Avella said, and Flushing Meadows would become overcrowded.

“Normally when you have some alienation, [and] you have some land coming in, you have to replace parkland of equal acreage some place everyone can agree upon. You may actually replace the amount of acreage, but the number of people who use it would be significantly less.”

Landmarking includes a review of the park for its historical and cultural value. The independent commission will look at these and decide whether or not it goes to a full vote.

“We put together what I think are very significant reasons why it should be done,” said Avella. “The historic aspect of the park in terms of two Worlds Fairs, housing the United Nations for a period of time and the fact that it is the borough park.

All three projects require a vote from the City Council, and then approval from the state because green space will be lost. Avella said should the bill go to the state level — in order to approve any removed parkland — he would push his colleagues in the chamber to vote down the expansions.

Risa Heller, spokesperson for MLS, said the league wanted to help refurbish the park and have a long working relationship with the parks department.

“MLS is deeply committed the long term health and vibrancy of FMCP which is why we will make a significant investment in the park in addition to replacing community fields,” she said. “We plan to be a long term partner for the park and plan to do everything we can to ensure it meets the needs of the surrounding communities.”

Spokespersons for USTA and the Willets project were reached for comment, but were not able to respond by press time.

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Where to play tennis in Queens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Shamanth Rao

The U.S. Open is not the only place to play tennis in Queens. In honor of the end of the tournament, here are places where you can work on your serve, backhand and other racket skills in the borough, from private clubs to city park courts. 

 

Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Flushing Meadow-Corona Park

The location of the U.S. Open, it also offers several different tennis programs, including junior tennis camps, adult lessons and private instruction with certified tennis professionals.

BumbleBee Tennis
21st Street, Astoria, 347-284-6061

There are lessons for kids starting at 2-years-old, instruction for adults, even beginners, and a cardio tennis program.

CityView Racquet Club
43-34 32nd Place, Long Island City, 718-389-6252

At this private club members can play tennis, squash or enjoy its fitness area, full service spa, juice bar, cocktail lounge and outdoor deck with a skyline view of Manhattan.

Cunningham Tennis Center
196-00 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, 718-740-6800

It has a junior development program beginning at 4-years-old, various lessons for adults, and private or semi-private lessons seven days a week.

North Shore Tennis and Racquets Club
34-28 214th Place, Bayside, 718-229–9579

This tennis club has Har-Tru tennis courts, two platform tennis courts, lit for night play year-round and two squash courts, as well as lessons from tennis pros.

NYC Parks tennis courts
Various locations throughout Queens

Throughout the borough, you can play at one of the many tennis courts located at city parks and playgrounds. Some can be set aside by reservation and others are open to walk-ons.

West Side Tennis Club
1 Tennis Place, Forest Hills, 718-268-2300

The West Side Tennis Club has 38 courts with many different surfaces, including Har-Tru, red clay and Deco Turf, and bubble and platform tennis courts for when the weather gets cold.

Youth and Tennis Academy
Various locations in Queens, 718-658-6728

Tennis instruction is offered throughout the year for pre-school through high school aged children at different facilities in Queens.

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 88. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 66. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Zumba on the Beach

This is the last chance of the summer to take an evening Zumba class at Rockaway Beach. This free Shape Up NYC class is a fusion of Latin, International and popular music dance that features aerobic, fitness interval training with a combination of fast and slow rhythms that tone and sculpt the body with easy to follow dance steps. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

LIRR worker fatally electrocuted in Queens

A Long Island Rail Road worker is dead after he came in contact with the third rail near the Queens Village station.The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says service was temporarily suspended around the area after the accident Monday morning. Read more: AP/Wall Street Journal

Drama brewing over axed arts program in Glendale

Encore! A coalition of parents, teachers and students are rallying behind a displaced Queens drama teacher to ensure this isn’t his curtain call. Theater teacher Evan Behlivanis, 31, was told in late July that his nine-year tenure at Public School/Intermediate School 119 in Glendale was coming to an end due to budget constraints. Read more:  New York Daily News

Tennis fans brave soggy start to U.S. Open

The U.S. Open is back up and running in Queens with scores of eager fans ready for action following a three hour and 15-minute rain delay earlier today. About 700,000 fans are expected to visit Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the 20-day tournament. Read more: NY1

City has just one Parks Enforcement Patrol officer for all of Queens, union charges

The ranks of city Parks Enforcement Patrol officers are so thin that only one officer is available to patrol all Queens parks this summer, union officials charged. Read more: New York Daily News

New Yorkers want to throw Department Of Sanitation policy in the trash

New Yorkers are crying foul over a sanitation policy that they say needs to be trashed. “I think it’s crazy that without a warning or anything, it should have been a warning. Unless they’re trying to make money, which is what I think,” Raymond Jansson of Whitestone, Queens told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez on Monday night. Read more: CBS New York

Tropical Storm Isaac takes aim at New Orleans

Tropical Storm Isaac had nearly reached hurricane strength as it bore down on the U.S. Gulf Coast on Tuesday and appeared to be taking direct aim at New Orleans, almost seven years to the day since the Crescent City was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Read more: Reuters

Republican National Convention enlists first Sikh speaker

An American Sikh is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., the first time the party has invited a Sikh to speak at a national convention. Read more: New York Times

 

 

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is aces


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Alexa Altman

The kids came to celebrate their “love” of the game.

Thousands of tennis fans flooded the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing for the 17th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day — the official kickoff event for the US Open Tennis Championships — on Saturday, August 25.

Kids and their families enjoyed tennis exhibitions and skills competitions, featuring professional players Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. On hand to celebrate the start of the US Open were jugglers, unicyclists and magicians who performed for crowds in tennis-themed outfits.

Tots toted oversized, electric-yellow tennis balls, gathering signatures from on-site hall-of-famers. Young players who wanted to show their skills on the court faced off in tournaments throughout the day.

“[Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day] holds a long standing history of providing a day of fun-filled family activities as attendees celebrate the life of Arthur Ashe and his mission to empower children of all ages through tennis,” said USTA executive director and chief operating officer Gordon Smith.

The day-long celebration was headlined by a concert, hosted by “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks and TV host Quddus, the event featured musical performances from “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen, breakout stars The Wanted, Owl City, Mindless Behavior and Rachel Crow.

Allison, 7, and her brother Andrew, 5, from New Jersey, were overjoyed for the musical performances, which were a surprise to the pair until after they arrived. The tiny tennis enthusiasts had attended summer tennis camp not long before the US Open and were excited to see some professional players demonstrate their skills. The siblings had also taken part in the event’s face painting activity. Andrew sported tiger stripes while Allison rocked a floral design.

Olympic gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin and Matthew Morrison from “Glee” also made cameo appearances.

US Open a big boost to Queens business


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Thousands of fans from across the country and around the world pour into the city at summer’s end to watch some of the world’s biggest tennis stars battle it out in the final leg of the Grand Slam.

The U.S. Open not only showcases the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, but a number of businesses as well — ranging from hospitality to landscape.

Keil Bros. Garden Center & Nursery in Bayside has done the groundswork for the national championship for more than 25 years, according to Russ Bodenhorn, the company’s general manager. The 82-year-old groundskeeping company works around the calendar on the Tennis Center’s layout, he said.

“As soon as this year’s open is over and completed, and they begin their clean up and tear-down process…we start planning for next year already,” he said. “We’ll sit down with the executives, the administration and say ‘what worked for you, what didn’t work?’”

The month-and-a-half leading up to the Open, the landscapers deal with the outdoor work, Bodenhorn said, with the last few days focusing on interior greenery in luxury boxes and hospitality stands.

The Open is a big boost to the economy citywide, he said, but is especially a plus for local, Queens-based businesses.

“Even just the local Flushing economy flourishes,” Bodenhorn said. “Tennis brings in an awful lot [of economic activity].”

A number of LaGuardia Airport hotels are also partnered with the Tennis Association to help handle the scores of fans coming in.

“It’s pretty much our busiest weeks of the year,” said Jim Norris, general manager of the Hampton Inn LaGuardia. “It definitely helps out this area.”

Over the last 10 to 15 years, Norris said he has seen a number of people return year after year to the hotels.

“They love it,” he said. “We have people that come back year after year.”

Daniel Zausner, managing director of the Tennis Center, said the U.S. Tennis Association not only partners with a number of Queens businesses, but many of those temporarily hired for the event live in Queens.

“We hire over 6,000 people [in total] each year for the tournament, some of them come in as early as February,” he said. “Eighty-five percent of those people are New York City based; over 40 percent of them are from Queens alone. You’re talking about 2,500 jobs just for Queens residents.”

As the Tennis Center will undergo renovations and expansions in the fall 2013, Zausner said the number of employees will potentially go up — as the center is expected to see an additional million visitors a day following the revamp.

“There will be a need to hire more people to work the events,” he said. “We’re all about supporting our neighbors. There’s a great benefit for us to use Queens residents.”

Men’s lineup at the US Open


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

World No. 1 and five-time US Open singles champion Roger Federer, defending US Open champion Novak Djokovic, and former US Open champions Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro lead the men’s singles field for the 2012 US Open Tennis Championships.

Each of the world’s top 101 men received direct entry into the US Open, representing 37 countries.

The 2012 US Open will be played August 27 – September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Both the men’s and women’s US Open singles champions will earn $1.9 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money (for a total $2.9 million potential payout) based on their performances in the Emirates Airline US Open Series. The US Open Men’s Singles Championship is presented by Mercedes-Benz USA.

Leading the entry list is world No. 1 Roger Federer, who returned to the top ranking following his title at Wimbledon this year. Federer surpassed Pete Sampras to set the record for the most weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings at 287 weeks. Federer is seeking his sixth US Open title, which would surpass Sampras and Jimmy Connors for most US Open men’s singles titles in the Open Era. In 2007, Federer became the only man to win the Emirates Airline US Open Series and US Open titles in the same year.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic is the defending US Open champion after defeating Rafael Nadal in four sets in the final last year for his first US Open championship. Djokovic won the 2012 Australian Open and reached the final of the French Open. He held the No. 1 ranking from July 2011 up to Wimbledon this year—the first player other than Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to be ranked No. 1 on the ATP World Tour since Andy Roddick in 2003.

Following Federer and Djokovic on the entry list are No. 4 Andy Murray of Great Britain, the 2008 US Open runner-up; No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain, a 2007 US Open semifinalist; No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up; No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up; No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, a 2011

US Open quarterfinalist; No. 9 Del Potro of Argentina, the 2009 US Open singles champion; and No. 10 Nicolas Almagro of Spain.

In all, there are six entrants who have won Grand Slam singles titles in their careers, including 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain.

Other American men who received direct entry into this year’s tournament include: No. 11 John Isner of Tampa, Fla.; No. 13 Mardy Fish of Los Angeles; No. 43 Ryan Harrison of Austin, Texas; No. 55 Sam Querrey of Las Vegas; No. 58 Donald Young of Atlanta; No. 79 Brian Baker of Nashville, Tenn.; No. 85 Jesse Levine of Boca Raton, Fla.; and No. 96 Michael

Russell of Houston.

Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil, ranked No. 101, is the last player accepted directly into the men’s field of 128. Additionally, three players used protected rankings to gain direct entry:

Somdev Devvarman of India; Paul-Henri Mathieu of France; and Tommy Robredo of Spain.

Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open Qualifying Tournament, August 21-

24, while the remaining eight spots are wild cards awarded by the USTA.

Among the players competing in the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be the winner of the third annual US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship presented by playtennis.com, held during the Emirates Airline US Open Series women’s event in New Haven, Conn., prior to the US Open Qualifying Tournament. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs in 2010 to allow players 14-and-older, regardless of playing ability or nationality, to vie for a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament via one of 13 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments.

The July 16 edition of the ATP World Tour rankings was used to determine the US Open main draw entry list. Seeds will be determined and announced closer to the start of the event.

 

CityView Racquet Club is aces


| skarim@queenscourier.com

squash.lic.courierw

As the aces tear up the courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, you can practice your own swing – and so much more – at the CityView Racquet Club, a private, members-only facility.

Established in 2008, the Long Island City club, conveniently located just minutes away from Manhattan, offers squash and tennis programs for juniors and adults looking to develop their game.

“The owners of CityView Racquet Club recognized that the number of tennis facilities in NYC was diminishing with the increased value of real estate,” said Christina Lenahan, club director. “To ensure that our tennis courts would be protected, we found our home atop the iconic Swingline stapler building, catering to the tennis, squash and fitness needs of our local residents and neighbors.”

Aside from handling general inquiries, membership enrollment, events, marketing, and advertising, Lenahan also makes some time for squash.

“You’ll certainly see me taking advantage of our amazing squash courts,” she said.

The Racquet Club is known for its state-of-the-art fitness equipment, spa, and event space, which includes a bar/lounge and rooftop deck for custom parties, steam and sauna, ping pong, Wi-Fi, as well as complimentary valet.

“CityView has an exceptional teaching staff and has built a reputation as the premier tennis/squash club for adult and junior instruction in the New York City area,” said Lenahan. “We also provide tennis clinics and partner match-up services for both tennis and squash.”

As the club continues to grow, CityView continues to develop new programming opportunities for members – both new and old.

“We are looking forward to creating more of a stronghold here in Queens,” said Lenahan. “We are excited to be a part of this community and plan to grow along with Long Island City, and in the next few years, we foresee that CityView will be recognized by all Queens residents as providing various services from events to racquet sports.

CityView Racquet Club is located at 43-34 32nd Place. To learn more, call 718-389-6252, or visit www.cityviewracquet.com.

 

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day preview


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Pop-vocal sensation The Wanted, chart-topping singer Carly Rae Jepsen, special guest performer Owl City and from Nickelodeon’s How to Rock, Cymphonique Miller and Max Schneider, will team up with reigning US Open Champion Novak Djokovic, U.S. #1 men’s singles player John Isner, three-time US Open Champion Kim Clijsters and Mardy Fish at the 17th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess Saturday, August 25 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, from 9:30 a.m. – 4p.m.

Hosted by AAKD alumnus Jordin Sparks and TV personality Quddus, the popular full-day tennis and music festival for children and adults alike features interactive games, musical entertainment and tennis activities. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess will kick off the 2012 US Open, which runs from August 27 – September 9.

From 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., kids and their families can enjoy an exciting schedule of free tennis games, live music and attractions taking place throughout the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Inside Arthur Ashe Stadium from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., the live tennis and music show will feature fun exhibition matches and skills competitions with Novak Djokovic, John Isner, Kim Clijsters, Mardy Fish and other top players and celebrities with musical performances by The Wanted, Carly Rae Jepsen, Owl City, Cymphonique Miller, Max Schneider and other talent to be announced.

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day will be broadcast nationally by CBS on Sunday, August 26, from noon – 1:30 p.m (ET). Kids 12-and-under with stadium show tickets will receive a free Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day hat from the USTA and Hess on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We are thrilled to kick off the 2012 US Open with the 17th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess featuring the most popular names in sports and entertainment today,” said Gordon Smith, USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. “The event holds a long-standing history of providing a day of fun-filled family activities as attendees celebrate the life of Arthur Ashe and his mission to empower children of all ages through tennis.”

 

Agassi to join Court of Champions


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The USTA has announced that Andre Agassi, a two-time US Open Champion, has been named the 2012 inductee into the US Open Court of Champions, a US Open and USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center attraction honoring the greatest singles champions in the history of the U.S. Championships/US Open.

Agassi will be inducted during an on-court ceremony in Arthur Ashe Stadium prior to the Men’s Singles Championship on Sunday, September 9. Patrick McEnroe will host the ceremony.

The US Open Court of Champions salutes the tournament’s all-time greatest champions with an individual permanent monument that serves as a lasting tribute. Agassi will join prior inductees Arthur Ashe, Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Althea Gibson, Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez, Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Margaret Osborne duPont, Ken Rosewall, Pete Sampras, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. A panel of international print and broadcast journalists selected the 2012 inductee from the roster of U.S. champions based on their performances at the tournament and their impact on the growth of the event.

“Few tennis players have impacted the sport of tennis more than Andre Agassi,” said Jon Vegosen, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “He is a champion both on and off the court, elevating the popularity of our sport while playing, and now helping to enhance the lives of children off the court with his generosity and dedication to providing young people with the opportunity for a quality education. He truly deserves this honor.”

Agassi, the son of a former Olympic boxer, grew up in Las Vegas with a ball machine in his backyard, developing extraordinary hand-eye coordination that has seldom – if ever – been matched in the history of tennis. Turning pro at 16, he quickly established himself as one of tennis’ top talents and a definitive fan favorite.

Bold, brash and bigger-than-life, Agassi won the US Open men’s title in 1994 (the first unseeded player in the Open era to capture the US Open) and again in 1999. His punishing baseline game, unparalleled return-of-serve and superior athleticism allowed him to win a career Grand Slam and a total of eight career Grand Slam titles, as well as a gold medal in singles at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He also was a member of two U.S. Davis Cup-winning teams. Agassi competed in a men’s Open-era record 21 consecutive US Opens. He was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011.

Today he focuses a good deal of his time and efforts on the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free public charter school for at-risk youth in Las Vegas.

 

Tennis Center parking plans not met with Love


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Phil Hertling

Officials and advocates are currently volleying parking plans at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Designs for new structures to relieve parking problems at the center will not breach the area allocated to the U.S. Open rented from the city, a Tennis Association representative said. But park advocates say that any new, permanent construction is too much.

Some became vocal about the recently-announced plans to revamp the center — expected to begin next fall — arguing that adding parking spaces to the plan would infringe on the green space of the borough’s largest park, and convert public space into commercial.

Daniel Zausner, managing director of the Tennis Center, said plans to expand on parking would not affect any additional areas of the park; rather, parking structures are expected to be built on the center’s existing lots.

“We’re taking our existing parking lots in that perimeter and building up,” Zausner said. “The most critical thing is we’re not impacting the spot in a footprint perspective.”

The two lots the center currently has, Zausner said, accommodate a little more than 300 spots. With one lot getting a two-tiered structure, and the other a three-tiered, the center will be able to park about 800 cars total. That is still a stretch for the thousands of people the center sees a day when the U.S. Open takes place, Zausner said.

Green space supporters, however, said even building a structure was too much. Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the Tennis Center was still violating its rental agreement with the city.

“This isn’t a commercial area,” he said. “It’s public park and most certainly [parking garages] will encourage more cars to come in.”

Kim Ohanian, third vice chair of Community Board 7 and head of the board’s Parks Committee, said bringing more cars in would also have an environmental effect on the park.

Ohanian added that the Tennis Center needed to promote taking mass transit as opposed to driving when attending the U.S. Open.

The center had some 600 spots allocated at what is now World Ice Arena, but lost the site when ground broke on the project more than 10 years ago. Since then, the city did not compensate for parking, aside from city parking in Shea Stadium’s parking lot. When Citi Field was completed, however, the Mets took full control of the parking, Zausner said.

Ballperson here I come!


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Picture 130w

I just wanted to prove I could still play ball.

Although I’m a reporter — and four years removed from competitive sports, since the last time I played baseball was in high school — an opportunity to participate in the U.S. Open media ballperson tryouts on June 21 meant a chance to show I’m still athletic.

While watching the U.S. Open every year I inevitably notice the ballpersons scurrying around the court like squirrels, fielding balls as discreetly as possible and returning them to the players.

I thought this should be simple enough for me, who has played sports all his life.

Brimming with confidence, I listened to Tina Taps, U.S. Open Ballperson director, give the instructions on how to correctly field the ball to the group of media personnel gathered at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

She said to sprint to the loose balls, and sprint back to the closest side. Then throw the ball with high arches to clear players and make sure it bounces once to ballperson team members.

It was supposed to be easy for me, but for some reason that feeling of anxiety that scares Little Leaguers from making the right play at crunch time came over me when it was my turn. And surely enough, I screwed up from the get-go.

“Sprint,” yelled my evaluator, Cathie Delaney. I was running too slowly.

“That ball was a little off target,” she said. My throw was too wide.

Maybe once or twice I considered it would be cool to be a ballperson in the past, but I never seriously wanted to try out, because it seemed too simple.

But here I was looking dreadful. Before my turn came to try out I remember watching the other reporters from companies like ESPN and Newsday, dressed in athletic gear, and I wanted to look better than them.

My pride was on the line, so I picked up the pace.

I began full-out sprinting to my spots and gunning the bright, green balls as if someone was stealing second, while still keeping the bounce.

After my turn ended and I approached Delaney, out of breath from just 10 minutes of running and throwing.

I asked how my tryout was and she replied, “You could do it,” Delaney said “But you aren’t actually available, are you?”

Just the thought that I would be accepted was good for me, but to make it even better I was complimented.

“You looked good out there,” said a female Newsday reporter as I walked away from the courts.

My pride was intact, but not my colleague’s.

Terence Cullen, my fellow reporter, beaned another participant in the head, knocking his hat clear off.

There’s always next year, Terence.