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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.