Tag Archives: Tennis

U.S. Open reveals culinary lineup featuring gourmet cuisine, food trucks


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Levy Restaurants

Tennis balls are not the only thing served at the U.S. Open.

The United States Tennis Association announced a lineup of culinary offerings at the upcoming tournament featuring old favorites, new dining experiences and celebrity chefs with international resumes.

Levy Restaurants — the official restaurant partner of the U.S. Open — has arranged for U.S. Open Executive Chef Jim Abbey and a culinary team of 250 to prepare food across five restaurants, 60 concession stands and 100 suites during the games, which are expected to attract more than 700,000 fans.

This year’s expanded food choices will include renowned restaurateur Ed Brown joining Iron Chef sushi master Masaharu Morimoto at ACES, the U.S. Open’s signature seafood stop which opened in 1997. The ACES menu includes fresh sushi and sashimi and Skuna Bay salmon served with green apple, red watercress, horseradish, cucumber and extra virgin olive oil.

The U.S. Open will also be welcoming its second food truck onto the premises this year with the arrival of Sweet Chili, which serves Thai and Vietnamese food combining both sweet and savory flavors. Dishes at Sweet Chili will include maple miso tofu (a maple-infused tofu served with jasmine rice), and chips and salsa served with fresh shrimp.

Other dining options at the U.S. Open include Michelin Star chef Michael White of Costata serving dishes in the Champions restaurant, Juice Press selling organic bottled juices and smoothies, and Maya serving modern Mexican fare from its New York restaurant led by former tennis pro Richard Sandoval. Lavazza brand beverages — the exclusive coffee of the U.S. Open— will be served in cafes, and the signature cocktail the Grey Goose Honey Duece —with vodka, lemonade, raspberry liqueur and honeydew melon “tennis balls” — has been brought back by popular demand.

Besides substantial additions to the culinary lineup, the U.S. Open will be extending service from two of the food village vendors up to the Arthur Ashe Stadium Club Level. Fans with tickets in that seating area will be able to order from Hill Country Barbecue and Maya to sample dishes such as Maya’s steak tacos made with grilled steak, salsa and cilantro and a chopped brisket sandwich tossed with homemade sauce from Hill Country Barbecue.

The U.S. Open will serve approximately 15,000 pounds of beef, 7.5 tons of crab, shrimp and lobster, and 85,000 pounds of poultry at this year’s games. The USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center kitchens donate more than 10 tons of unsold prepared food to the local community and compost all food waste, collecting 240 tons to send offsite for landscaping and farm use.


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Q&A sessions to give fans a closer look at tennis legends during US Open


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Time Warner Cable

Fans attending the U.S. Open will have the chance to come face to face with tennis legends during question-and-answer sessions at Time Warner Cable Studios.

James Blake and Lindsay Davenport are among some of the boldface names to appear at the sessions, which are slated to take place from Sept. 1 through Sept. 9. The all-star lineup also includes Olympic medal winner Mary Joe Fernandez, Jim Courier, a former No. 1 world ranked player, and Michael Chang, who was the youngest French Open/Grand Slam Champion ever in 1989.

TWC Studios has a simulated control room feed of all televised match courts so visitors will still be able to see the on-court action while at the facility, located in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. As part of the this feature, guests can try out an interactive umpire chair with a “test your swing” component.

Time Warner Cable is serving as the WiFi sponsor for the games and will be providing the service free of charge for attendees. The telecommunications company is also offering tennis fans access to cellphone charging stations in its studio for the duration of the games.

The following is the weekly schedule for question-and-answer sessions with tennis pros:

Tuesday, Sept.1 – James Blake at 11 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 2 – Michael Chang at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 3 – Mary Joe Fernandez at 12:15 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 4 – Michael Chang at 1 p.m./Lindsay Davenport at 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 5 – Jim Courier at 1 p.m./Michael Chang at 4 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 6 – Michael Chang at 4 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 7 – Jim Courier at 1 p.m./Lindsay Davenport at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 – Mary Joe Fernandez at 12:15 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 9 – James Blake at 1 p.m.

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Teens from Little Neck and Flushing to serve as US Open ball persons


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of New York Junior Tennis and Learning

It’ll be the experience of a lifetime.

Two Queens kids from the NY Junior Tennis and Learning (NYJTL) program will be front and center as ball persons at the U.S. Open next week to assist their favorite players throughout the games.

Shelly Yaloz of Little Neck and Gabe Sifuentes of Flushing will be two of six NYJTL students who beat out hundreds of others for the honor of serving as ball persons this year. Ball persons stand courtside at tennis games to retrieve stray tennis balls, replace old balls with new ones and do other tasks such as supply players with towels or bottles of water.

The competition to make it as a ball person is intense, with prospective candidates tested on how fast they can run and how far they can throw, among other qualifications. As part of the program, NYJTL requires all of its participants to try out for the prestigious summer job, in addition to daily 4-hour training sessions during the summer and fitness conditioning and training.

Yaloz, 14, has been playing tennis with NYJTL since she was 8 years old and has never been a ball person before. She is proud of her competitive spirit, which she uses to her advantage as a tennis player.

“I’m a big fighter; in any match, I’ll try to fight,” she said. “I like the feeling of winning.”

Sifuentes, 15, attends St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows and has been a ball person at the U.S. Open before and says that he learned a lot from the experience. He also used to attend the games every year with his family, even before he got the chance to actively participate on the courts.

“You can watch the pros deal with situations when they’re under pressure, so you can put [that experience] into your life and your tennis tournaments,” Sifuentes said.

Elena Bantovska, director of player development and competition at NYJTL, said that kids travel from all over the country to try out as ball persons, and the staff at the tennis center hoped that their students would be inspired by seeing their peers on the courts with the pros.

“It’s a huge experience to be on the court with one of your role models. That inspires them to do better and hopefully to compete on the grand stage as well,” Bantovska said.

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US Open job fair to be held July 7 for Queens residents


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

For those whose summer plans aren’t already set, how about working at the U.S. Open for two weeks?

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) will be hosting its fifth annual U.S. Open job fair on July 7 and 8, and the organization is showing love to Queens residents by giving them the first crack at available positions.

The job fair will begin at the Sheraton LaGuardia East in Flushing on July 7 from 2 to 7 p.m., and will be reserved for Queens residents that day. The fair will be open to the entire public on July 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“For the two weeks of the U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows is the center of the sports world, and we’re delighted to once again to provide our Queens neighbors and tri-state residents with the chance to be part of the excitement and fun,” said Danny Zausner, COO of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Last year, more than 1,200 job-seekers from the five boroughs and the tri-state area came out looking for positions, which include guest services, facility operations, cooks, concession stand attendants, drivers, maintenance crew, security, cashiers and customer service representatives.

For those unable to attend the job fair, there will still be an opportunity to apply for positions. Applications at the U.S. Open will be accepted through August and details about the jobs can be found on the USTA’s website.

The 2015 U.S. Open will run from August 31 until September 13.

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Final steel beam installed for U.S. Open retractable roof atop Arthur Ashe Stadium


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The final steel beam for the Arthur Ashe Stadium retractable roof at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was installed on Wednesday in a topping ceremony, culminating more than a decade of studies and planning to cover the U.S. Open’s main court.

The retractable roof is the centerpiece of a more than $500 million project to expand the tennis center, which includes two new stadiums and an expanded south campus. The roof, designed by Rossetti and built by Hunt Construction Group, is the first in the country to be constructed over an existing stadium, officials said.

“If you’re flying into LaGuardia, if you’re riding by on the Grand Central [Parkway], it’s looming, it’s huge, and it is the major piece, but we are doing much, much more,” said Gordon Smith, COO of the United States Tennis Association. “We are completely reimagining the tennis center. We want nothing less than the vision of this facility being the finest tennis venue in the world and the preeminent sports facility in New York City.”

In total, 5,000 tons of steel were used for the roof, which is held up by eight large columns around the 24,000-seat stadium. Because the roof doesn’t sit directly on the stadium, Arthur Ashe will still feel like an outdoor court when it is opened, and at the promenade level fans will still be able to see the Manhattan skyline, according to officials.

During inclement weather, the retractable roof will be able to close in five to seven minutes. The covering for the roof is expected to be installed after this year’s U.S. Open, and the structure will be functional for the 2016 U.S. Open.

In the coming weeks, the giant cranes that were used to build the roof’s frame will be removed and preparation for the 2015 U.S. Open will begin.

Also, four new LED scoreboards will be installed in the stadium and a fabric covering will be placed over part of the stadium to block “strange” shadows from the roof’s steel skeleton.

The USTA completed the first phase of its expansion plan last year, which included new courts 4, 5 and 6, and two-story viewing bleachers that created a three-court stadium viewing experience for fans. The elevated seating area holds more than 1,300 fans, and Court 5 became the U.S. Open’s seventh television court.

The USTA also recently started construction on its new Grandstand Stadium at the south portion of the campus, which will have 8,000 seats, and replace the current 6,000-seat court of the same name that is connected to the Louis Armstrong Stadium. That new Grandstand Stadium will debut in time for the 2016 U.S. Open along with expanded walkways in the south area of the tennis center.

The smaller courts on the south portion of the campus will also be rebuilt next year.

Following the 2016 U.S. Open, the USTA will tear down and starting building a new 14,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. That stadium is currently planned to have a roof as well and is expected to be ready for the 2018 U.S. Open.

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Final steel beam for Arthur Ashe Stadium’s roof to be installed in June


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings and pictures courtesy of USTA

The $550 million project to expand the United States Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will reach a major milestone in a few weeks.

The USTA announced a topping ceremony for the new $100 million retractable roof on the 24,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium is set for June 10.

Despite weathering a brutal winter, construction on the roof has been moving according to schedule and the final steel beam with be installed on the roof’s skeleton during the ceremony.

The roof construction will halt shortly thereafter as the staff prepares for this year’s U.S. Open, which will begin on August 31.

The retractable roof is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2016 U.S. Open.

Last year, the USTA completed the first phase of the expansion plan, which included new courts 4, 5 and 6, and two-story viewing bleachers that created a three-court stadium viewing experience for fans. The elevated seating area holds more than 1,300 fans, and Court 5 became the U.S. Open’s seventh television court.

The USTA also recently started construction on its new Grandstand Stadium, which will have 8,000 seats, and replace the current 6,000-seat court of the same name that is connected to the Louis Armstrong Stadium. That new Grandstand Stadium will debut in time for the 2016 U.S. Open along with expanded walkways in the south area of the center.

The smaller courts on the south portion of the campus will also be rebuilt next year.

Following the 2016 U.S. Open, the USTA will tear down and build a new 14,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. That stadium is expected to be ready for the 2018 U.S. Open.

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Construction of roof for US Open progressing as planned over Arthur Ashe Stadium


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos and renderings courtesy of USTA

Construction of the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) $100 million retractable roof for Arthur Ashe Stadium, which will eventually eliminate fears of rain delays at US Open tournaments beginning in 2016, is on track despite brutal winter weather.

Off-site manufactured steel beams for the roof are being brought to Flushing Meadows Corona Park and placed on top of the stadium using jumbo cranes, which can be seen rising way above Arthur Ashe.

They are using the giant cranes to assemble the roof on top of the existing stadium, because the National Tennis Center’s campus is crowded and difficult to maneuver in. And while workers have had to take the cranes down due to recent snowstorms and strong windy days, the roof should still be completed before the 2016 US Open as planned.

“We have committed ourselves to making sure the roof is in place by 2016 and we are going to keep to that. Obviously winter in New York City is not a new phenomenon,” National Tennis Center COO Daniel Zausner said. “While this winter has been rough just like last winter, we are going to have to make it up in the spring when the weather is hopefully cooperating.”


The roof, which was first announced two years ago, is part of a $550 million expansion of the National Tennis Center, which includes two completely new stadiums, and revitalization of the southern courts, all to be completed by the 2018 US Open.

The roof for Arthur Ashe will continue to see construction through July, when the USTA will stop to prepare for the 2015 US Open. Following the major tournament, construction will resume on the roof and should be completed by August 2016, in time for that year’s US Open.

The USTA also recently started construction on a new Grandstand Stadium, which will have 8,000 seats, and replace the current 6,000-seat court connected to Louis Armstrong Stadium. The new Grandstand Stadium is expected to be completed for the 2016 US Open as well.

All the smaller courts on the south portion of the campus will be also be rebuilt for the 2016 Open.

Finally, following the 2016 US Open the plan is to tear down and build a new 15,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium will begin. That stadium is expected to be ready for the 2018 US Open.

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House bill looks at Flushing’s connection to religious freedom


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File Photo

There’s more than just tennis and the World’s Fair in Queens. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng wants to add the roots of American religious freedom to Queens’ list of accomplishments.

A bill, sponsored by Meng, would require the government to look into funding Flushing sites like the Bowne House and Quaker Meetinghouse, according to the Library of Congress. These sites are associated with the 1657 signing of the Flushing Remonstrance, the document recognized as the forerunner of religious freedom in America.

Her bill won a majority in the House of Representatives on Monday night.

“The passage of this legislation brings us one step closer towards many more Americans learning about the important role that Queens played in the history of religious freedom in America,” Meng said.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by President Barack Obama, the Flushing sites would receive federal funding and, according to Meng, result in increased tourism.

“Not only would the two facilities become more well-known, but the sites would stand to receive many more visitors each year, and more tourism translates into more dollars for the Queens economy,” she said. “It’s time for more people across the country to know about the Flushing Remonstrance, and putting these sites on a national stage is a sure way to accomplish that.”

Rosemary Vietor, vice president of the Bowne House Historical Society, was “thrilled” to hear the news and said that the study would help lift the Flushing Remonstrance signing out of obscurity.

“The 1657 Remonstrance triggered events which established the principle of religious freedom in the colony of New Amsterdam,” she said, “which led to the guarantee of religious freedom in the First Amendment more than 100 years later.”

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LIRR Mets-Willets Point Station getting $9.7 million makeover


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Long Island Rail Road ‘s Mets-Willets Point Station will be getting a $9.7 million renovation that calls for, among other things, an elevator to ease access from the platform to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the National Tennis Center and Citi Field, according to the MTA.

The funds come from the MTA and plans are currently being made for the project to be completed by 2016. The MTA hasn’t made a decision about the designs for the additions. But the plans are being designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by installing tactile warning strips at the edges of the platform and constructing new staircases with guardrails and handrails. An MTA spokesman said that designs will be complete by 2015

“The MTA and the Long Island Rail Road are committed to doing our part so LIRR customers with disabilities can attend the U.S. Open, Mets games and other special events that come to Flushing Meadows Park,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said.

The renovations also include the extension of the platform to accommodate 12-car trains, a new canopy fully covering the platform, and new lighting and communication systems.

The Mets-Willets Point Station, located on the railroad’s Port Washington Branch, is strictly a special events station, open only when the Mets are playing or the U.S. Open is underway. The station was opened in 1964 for the 1964-65 World’s Fair but it was built without special accommodations for people with mobility impairments.

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US Open inadvertently shines a light on local soccer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

For many tennis fans the US Open is the closest thing to heaven.

The chance to watch the world’s premier tennis players battle for the country’s top title and partake in numerous tennis-related activities draws some 700,000 fans annually to the two-week sporting event in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

But inadvertently, the Grand Slam literally shone a light on soccer as The Courier observed fans of the world’s most popular sport playing games under the lights of a US Open parking lot on Monday—the tournament’s opening night.

Soccer 1

The soccer players were of various ages and played mixed-gender pick-up games, complete with two white mini goals.

Anyone who frequents Flushing Meadows Corona Park knows how popular soccer is for local players and fans. On any given day—with appropriate climate conditions—the fields are occupied with soccer matches for various age groups.

The sport is so popular officials tried to build a 20,000 to 25,000-seat stadium in the park for a new MLS team. But park advocates fought to keep the stadium out.

Since the soccer fields don’t have lights, most stop playing when it becomes night time, according to players.

However, temporary lights have been set up in the US Open “H” parking lot near the New York Hall of Science as evening matches tend to run late into the night, giving Queens soccer lovers some extra playing time.

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PHOTOS: US Open 2014 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

Tennis and music stars collided on Saturday to bring a day filled with performances and fun activities at the 19th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.

While signaling the start of the two-week US Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the event featured performances from country superstar Hunter Hayes, duo MKTO, girl group McClain, British pop rock band The Vamps, teen sensation Madison Beer and DJ Salerno among others, as well as appearances from pro players Novak Djokovic and Sloane Stephens.

Besides the performances, there were a variety of tennis programs for kids to learn more about the game, such as courts with professional teachers, technology to test the speed of their serves and obstacle courses to challenge their agility and balance. There was also face painting, juggling performances and various other acts for children to enjoy.

 

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Wristband collects fans’ experiences at US Open tent


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

In case you’re at the US Open and wondering what those funky royal blue bracelets are that many people are wearing, they are called MyOpen Passes.

American Express brought the RFID-enabled wristbands to the Grand Slam for the first time, giving users a way to record their experiences in its tent without charge.

During the two-week tennis tournament, fans who enter the American Express Fan Experience area and use its stations will be sent an email with details and pictures of their activities via the wristband technology.

In the swing analysis station, for example, a machine measures someone’s impact position, racquet speed and spin rate, aiming to help players use that data to improve. The results will be sent to the fan through the bracelet.

To use the wristband, fans have to register for it when they enter the tent.

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Besides the swing analysis, fans can pose for images in a station called pro cam, where numerous cameras are mounted in a half-circle. The resulting image moves in 180 degrees, showing the photo from various angles.

And for those fans who want to take a picture with a pro player, but have not been lucky enough to meet one, rest assured, because there is also a station where fans can take a picture with a hologram of Sloane Stephens.

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19th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day to kick off US Open with concerts, tennis programs


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is hoping to kick off the US Open with a blast through the 19th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day event.

Tennis and musical stars will combine on Saturday to bring a day of fun activities and performances, while signaling the start of the two-week Grand Slam tournament in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Every year, Kids’ Day displays some of the music industry’s top up-and-coming performers at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Last year, Ariana Grande and Austin Mahone took part in the event, and past acts include Justin Bieber, Rihanna, the Jonas Brothers, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sean Kingston, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys.

This year country superstar Hunter Hayes, duo MKTO, girl group McClain, British pop rock band The Vamps, teen sensation Madison Beer and DJ Salerno, among others will headline the list of performers for the event.

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Besides the concerts, there will be a variety of tennis programs for kids to learn more about the game, such as lessons with professional teachers, special technology to test the speed of kids’ serves and obstacle courses to challenge agility and balance. Fans can also get autographs and watch some pros as they practice for the tournament.

“Not only is Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess a fantastic way to kick off the US Open, but it’s also a great time to encourage youth to be active, play tennis and develop healthy habits,” said USTA Executive Director and COO Gordon Smith. “This annual event continues to bring the entire family together for a fun-filled day of sports and entertainment.”

Michelle

Various celebrities and tennis stars usually host the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. First lady Michelle Obama and Serena Williams shared the stage in last year’s event. This year, actors Jeff Sutphen, China Anne McClain and fitness trainer Shaun T will host the event and US Open men’s singles No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic will make an appearance.

For more information on the event, click here.

 

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Serena Williams to host tennis clinic with Queens youngsters


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dominick Totino

Defending US Open champion Serena Williams is set to serve up a fun clinic for some lucky local kids.

The 17-time Grand Slam singles champion is hosting a youth tennis clinic on Thursday just days before the 2014 US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

About 25 children ages 7 to 12 from the Corona-based Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities Community Center are set to meet and play with Williams.

The clinic is part of the “Returning the Love” initiative, where players reach out to surrounding community organizations both on and off the court.

 

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Fresh Meadows tennis pro competing for US Open spot


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy USTA Middle States


A Fresh Meadows tennis player is closing in on a spot in the US Open later this year, but she’ll have to fight her way in.

Jennifer Elie, 27, won the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Middle States sectional national playoffs tournament on June 24, which slots her in as a wild card in the US Open qualifying tournament held a week prior to the national Grand Slam in August. Should Elie win that draw, she’ll advance to the US Open.

Elie, who played for Francis Lewis High School, has been a consistent player on the USTA Pro Circuit and in International Tennis Federation (ITF) events. She won two ITF singles titles in 2012 in Caracas, Venezuela, and has also won four USTA Pro Circuit and ITF-level doubles events.

Elie, who peaked at No. 286 in the world in April 2013, has a win over current world No. 18 Sloane Stephens at a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Kentucky in 2011.

 

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