Tag Archives: Tennis

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.

 

Hundreds try out to be U.S. Open Ballperson


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Some had never been on a tennis courts, others had only seen a video of what they were about to do. They came from either end of the Island — hundreds of them — for only about 80 spots. They sprinted after dribbled balls, with the pressure of knowing the entire world could potentially watch them do this.

Almost 500 people of all ages came to the U.S. National Tennis Center on Thursday, June 21 to see if they had what it takes to be an official U.S. Tennis Ballperson. The try-outs came in the midst of the summer’s first heat wave, but officials said it gave a glimpse at what late August — when the U.S. Open takes place — would feel like.

Luca Bozzo, from Park Slope, came with his parents to not only seek a summer job, but for the unique experience.

“It would be really cool to be part of the U.S. Open” he said. “To get to see the players up close, that would be a tremendous thing.”

Luca, 15, said he wasn’t much of a tennis player, but enjoyed watching it on TV — listing superstar Roger Federer as one of his favorites.

The program, which employs about 80-90 people ages 14 and up, is an experience that lasts in the memories of those who take part, said Tina Taps, director of the U.S. Open Ballpersons.

The veterans who have taken part for several years cannot wait for the National Championship to start, Taps said, and compare its start to a countdown for school to end.

“They can’t wait to do it again,” she said, “and what’s wonderful about that is they mentor the younger kids.”

Taps said she was not concerned about the weather — trainers were on call and water coolers had been set up around the center — and instead thought it would give the potential ballpeople a glimpse of what the actual open weather would be like.

“The heat is a good thing because this is what it’s like during the tournament,” she said “So if they can handle it today, they’ll know what they’re up against in terms of heat.”

Jacob Uihlein came all the way from Centerport, Long Island to try out for a spot. Uihlein, 37, said his friend, who works at the Open every year, recommended the night before that he try out.

“I never really knew there were try outs,” he said.

An lover of the outdoors, Uihlein said he wasn’t too concerned about the near-100 degree weather affecting his abilities.

“I should’ve put on some sunblock,” he mused, as beads of sweat dripped from his chin.

 

Expansions for the US Open expected to draw more crowds, funds


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Tennis Centerw

Prospective development at the home of the US Open could mean an ace for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Queens.

Members of the USTA and borough officials served up information about the upcoming plans, set to begin in the fall of 2013, at a meeting on Thursday, June 14 at the Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The multi-year, multi-million dollar makeover will include amending the infrastructure, upgrading buildings and improving site circulation, creating what the USTA executives believe will be an improved experience for players and fans alike.

“Our goal remains to ensure that the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center remains a world-class facility for the top professional tennis players, for the hundreds of thousands of fans who annually attend the US Open, and, as importantly the near hundred thousand recreational tennis players who use this facility all year round,” said Jon Vegosen, president of the USTA.

According to the USTA, the US Open generates more than $756 million a year in economic activity, draws a crowd of 700,000 and reaches a global audience of 85 million viewers in 188 countries.

“The city recognizes the crucial need to improve the USTA facility and supports this vision, so that the center remains a top-ranked tennis venue capable of hosting the US Open and thereby allowing the tournament to remain in New York City for many decades,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The project will forge two new stadiums – one replacing Louis Armstrong Stadium, which will remain in its current location, and a brand new Grandstand Stadium, constructed in a different spot at the southwest corner of the site. Both stadiums were originally built during the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The Louis Armstrong Stadium, constructed for the fair as a Singer Bowl, is a 125,000 gross-square-feet facility with approximately 10,000 seats. The stadium to be erected in its place will have the ability to seat 15,000 guests and include concession, retail, broadcasting and administrative spaces. The Grandstand Stadium, also created as a Singer Bowl for the World’s Fair, will be demolished and rebuilt to seat 8,000 fans.

Amenities at the newly renovated facilities will include seven additional courts, two parking garages and an elevated viewing platform. Combined, the improvements are expected to acquire an additional 10,000 people per day during the tournament.

According to the USTA, the US Open creates 6,000 seasonal jobs – 85 percent of employees hail from New York City and 41 percent from Queens.

“For generations, the Borough of Queens has played host to the US Open, a world class sporting event and a major economic catalyst for our city,” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “I look forward to working with the USTA to ensure that the new additions to the NTC bring the maximum benefit to the people of the borough of Queens.”

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Long Island City library installs snack and soda vending machines

A cash-strapped Queens library has found an unusual way to raise revenue: selling soda, chips and candy. The Queens Library recently installed two vending machines stocked with unhealthy snacks near the entrance of its Long Island City branch. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Cops collar man accused of killing ex-wife and going over to bodega for beer and Band-Aids

 

The man wanted for killing his ex-wife in Queens before strolling to a nearby bodega to buy a Coors Light and Band-Aids was arrested Thursday, police and witnesses said. Maximiliano Lozada, 34, of Elmhurst, pummeled Luz Paulino, 33, and stabbed her repeatedly around 10:50 p.m. Monday, police said. Read more: [New York Daily News]

National Tennis Center In Queens To Raise Money For Major Overhaul

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators to the U.S. Open each year, and the people behind the center say they will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to keep it at the top of its game. Read more: [NY1]

School Prohibits Fifth-Grader From Giving Speech On Same-Sex Marriage

Kameron Slade worked on his speech with his mother and his teacher after winning a class competition. He was slated to deliver it in a school-wide contest at PS 195. That’s no longer going to happen. His mother, who doesn’t want to be identified, said the principal told her the topic is inappropriate. Read more: [NY1]

11 yrs. in fatal baby shake

A Queens baby sitter accused of shaking a crying 3-month-old boy so hard during the blizzard of December 2010 that he died a week later copped a plea yesterday. Read more: [New York Post]

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/10/2011:Ex-Queens resident gets 20 years jail term in wife’s death


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Ex-Queens resident gets 20 years jail term in wife’s death

A former Queens resident has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the choking death and dismemberment of his wife, whose parts were stuffed in a suitcase found by teenagers in a park almost a year later. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

Tennis might come back to Forest Hills Stadium

A historic Queens stadium might once again serve up tennis. Reports have revealed the latest bid to save the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium is coming from Stadium Arts Alliance, a nonprofit that wants to redesign the site and convert it into a space for tennis, concerts, art shows and possibly minor league hockey. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Salmonella cases in NY linked to chicken livers

Dozens of people in New York have been sickened after eating kosher broiled chicken livers that were not fully cooked. Health officials say the liver contaminated with salmonella was manufactured by Schreiber Processing Corp. under the MealMart brand. They say 89 cases of foodborne illness have been linked to the product, including 56 in New York City and 33 in nine upstate counties. The Queens-based company is recalling the product. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

Anti-Gang Forum in Elmhurst

Community leaders in Queens say that gangs are a growing influence on teens, so they got together Wednesday evening to give parents some tactical support to help their children. City Councilmember Julissa Ferraras, who organized the meeting, said that gang problem is getting worse and that they are recruiting in middle school and even in elementary schools. Read More: Fox News

 

Queens Residents Discuss Memories Of Flight 587 Crash Ahead Of 10th Anniversary

It may not look like it at first glance, but Queens’ Belle Harbor is where American Airlines Flight 587 went down. The only recognition is a small plaque that marks the spot, but the memory is still vivid for some. Read More: NY1

Tennis might come back to Forest Hills Stadium


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council

A historic Queens stadium might once again serve up tennis.

Reports have revealed the latest bid to save the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium is coming from Stadium Arts Alliance, a nonprofit that wants to redesign the site and convert it into a space for tennis, concerts, art shows and possibly minor league hockey.

The nonprofit is one of the groups that submitted a proposal to the West Side Tennis Stadium’s Request for Proposals – which ended on November 4.

Besides the Stadium Arts Alliance’s proposal, Cord Meyer proposed a new plan for condos, and other proposals also involved demolition for residential development. This is the second redevelopment plan proposed by Cord Meyer, the first of which was voted down in October of 2010.

Since that vote failed, the West Side Tennis Club voted out Kenneth Parker, the club’s president who was in favor of condo development, in favor of new president Roland Meier.

For any proposal to materialize, it would be subject to a review by the Stadium Committee, and in 2012, it would need to pass by a 2/3 vote of the West Side Tennis Club’s voting-eligible members, followed by approval of the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation.

Michael Perlman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council said that a creative revitalization of the property would serve the surrounding community – and the history of the stadium.

“I feel that mixed-use creative revitalization and restoration for our country’s first concrete tennis stadium, and home to firsts in the tennis and music world, will convey historic pride, create jobs, and be a boost to our quality of life, character, property values, and local business, as well as become a 21st-century family destination,” he said. “We will support any plan that preserves and restores the stadium, while sensitively adapting it for mixed-use incentives involving tennis and/or other sports, concerts, and music and art festivals.”

The Stadium Arts Alliance is comprised of developer and president Kevin McCabe and chairman John Banks. McCabe is the founding partner and chief executive of the Aviator Sports & Events Center at Floyd Bennett Field, and John Banks is the vice president of government relations for Con Edison and a New York Public Library and MTA board member.

Neither McCabe nor Banks returned The Courier’s requests for comment.

Girls grab victory: Kew-Forest wins tennis, volleyball


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Kew-Forest. Kew-Forest’s volleyball team netted a championship

The Kew-Forest School showed just how skilled its athletes are by capturing both the volleyball and varsity tennis girls’ championships in the span of one week – capturing the 2011 Private Parochial School Athletic League (IPPAL) Championships, capping off both teams’ impressive seasons.

On October 25, the varsity volleyball team defeated Lawrence-Woodmere in a match played at the Lexington School. Led by coach Adreama Mackey and team captains Maria Tsiatis and Lexis Valentine, the Jaguars won 2-1. After losing their first set 19-25, the Jaguars hit their stride and went on to win the next two sets. The second set resulted in a 25-22 win, and in their final set, they achieved a decisive victory of 25-10.

“After losing the first set, we were really determined to get it back,” said co-captain Maria Tsiatis. “It was really intense — they were a great team and we had to play our best to beat them. We saw what it means to work hard and see the results. Five of us are graduating, and winning it all meant so much.”

The team’s victory gave them a 7-1 record on the year.

On the tennis court, Kew-Forest defeated last year’s champions, the Portledge School, 3-2, for the championship. The Jaguars secured victory under the leadership of captain Whitney Schott to complete a successful 9-1 season for the team.

One of the key players, sophomore Grace Tom, played on both the tennis and volleyball teams, helping bring home both championships. Until this year, Kew-Forest had not fielded a girls’ tennis team for decades. In prior years, female players participated on the boys’ team, where they played a significant role in achieving a championship win last year.

The formation of the girls team has been invigorated by last year’s launch of the Kew-Forest Tennis Academy at the West Side Tennis Club, a partnership between the school and the tennis club. The Academy provides a unique interface between college-preparatory academics and competitive athletics — giving students three hours of daily practice and tennis pro instruction during the academic year. Scott Gordon-Somers, Director of Sport, Health and Wellness at Kew-Forest and acting girls’ tennis coach, has been key in the development of the Girls Varsity Team and the Academy.