Tag Archives: us open

Serena Williams ousted from US Open in stunning upset

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Dominick Totino

Serena Williams’ quest for a Grand Slam came to a shocking end Friday at the U.S. Open.

Williams lost to 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the semifinals of the U.S. Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium, in what many are calling one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.

Williams, the world’s No. 1 ranked player, opened the match strong, winning the first set 6-2. Vinci came back and won the second set 6-4, setting up a decisive third set. After dropping the first two games, Vinci came back to take a 4-3 lead. Williams got close, bringing the set to 5-4, but lost the next game, sealing the victory for Vinci.

Williams was on course to be the first woman to win a calendar-year Grand Slam since 1988. This was only the second time all year that William’s dropped a three-set match, bringing her record to 18-2.

Vinci’s win sets up an all-Italian final, as she faces off against fellow countrywoman Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta defeated No. 2 seed Simona Halep 6-1, 6-3 earlier in the day on Friday to advance to her first her first career Grand Slam final.

The women’s singles final is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 3 p.m.


Tennis legends make appearances at 2015 US Open

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel/Gallery courtesy of Jennifer Pottheiser Photography for Time Warner Cable

Tennis legends Lindsay Davenport and Mary Joe Fernandez were among the big sports names attending the 2015 U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Davenport and Fernandez appeared at the games courtesy of a Time Warner Cable question and answer series. As part of the series, fans also got to meet Jim Courier, a former No. 1 world ranked player; James Blake, a former No. 4 world ranked singles player; and Michael Chang, who was the youngest French Open/Grand Slam Champion ever in 1989.

Davenport—a six-time Grand Slam tournament champion who was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014 —said that the U.S. Open was always her favorite tournament and that she loves coming back to watch on the sidelines.

“I’ve always loved the sport since I first picked up a racket at 5,” Davenport said. “Even when I wasn’t playing, I was watching tennis all the time so I love coming back. I love being a part of it.”

This year Davenport worked as a coach for Madison Keys, a 20-year-old newcomer who was successful in her run in the 2015 U.S. Open until being bested by Serena Williams on Friday, Sept. 6.

As part of her question and answer session, Mary Joe Fernandez reflected on her experiences as a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

“When you’re playing for yourself, there’s pressure,” Fernandez said, “but when you’re playing for your country and teammates it’s another level of excitement and pressure.”

Fernandez, who has coached the Olympic women’s tennis team and served as an ESPN analyst since her retirement, said that her two children enjoyed using her gold medals to impress their friends at school.

“We have them in our family room behind the TV,” Fernandez said. “I bring [the medals] in to show-and-tell with the children, so they get a big kick out of that.”

The Q&A sessions are planned to continue through Wednesday, Sept. 9.


NYC high school teacher from Jamaica arrested in US Open drone crash

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via WIkimedia Commons

A city high school teacher was arrested Thursday night at the U.S. Open after flying a drone over a tennis match and crashing it into empty seats in the stands, according to authorities.

Daniel Verley, 26, reportedly from Jamaica, faces three charges after the incident, including reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone in a city public park outside of a prescribed area, police said.

Verley reportedly works as a teacher at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn.

According to published reports, the drone flew over the court at the Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday night before crashing into the seats at 8:28 p.m., startling both spectators and tennis players Monica Niculescu of Romania and Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

The black drone reportedly had four propellers and partially shattered on impact. No injuries were reported.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement that this incident illustrates that drones cannot be considered children’s toys.

“Many people operating unmanned aircraft are novices with little or no aviation experience and recklessly flying a drone near, over or into a tennis stadium or an airport or any other place where large groups of people assemble needlessly puts lives in danger,” Brown said.

The Courier reached out to Verley by phone for comment, but did not receive a response.


Ticket holders enjoy smaller games at US Open side courts and practice fields

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

It’s a tennis-palooza!

Tennis fans at the U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center have multiple courts to choose from in addition to four main stadiums hosting the sport’s biggest names.

While the likes of Andy Murray and John Isner could be seen at the Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums, simultaneous matches taking place in 11 fields and West Stadium courts allowed fans to get even closer to professional players.

Peter Kraus and Ashley Hall, a stepfather and daughter who both love the game, attended the U.S. Open together, enjoying the side games as well as major matches in the large stadiums.

“We’re tennis fans,” said Kraus, who has been playing for 40 years. “I enjoy the game and think it’s good exercise and fun.”

“It’s inspires me to keep going, because in high school matches you don’t win every match,” Hall said. “Now I’m in college and my school doesn’t have a team, but it inspires me to start a team.”

Practice fields open throughout the day for player warm-ups were also accessible to the reported 700,000 attendees expected to watch the games this year.


Gwen Vauss, an amateur tennis player who traveled from Maryland to see the games, said she was able to see tennis legend Roger Federer at the practice courts.

“I feel like a kid in awe,” Vauss said. “This is my first U.S. Open.”

Cherron Marray, another amateur who plays tennis with Vauss, said that it was encouraging to see professional players make some of the same mistakes that she and her peers make.

“I’m just here to take in the whole experience,” Marray said. “I feel a tennis overload, but in a good way.”


PHOTOS: US Open gets underway in grand style at National Tennis Center

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

The eyes of the tennis world are again on Queens for the next two weeks as the best players in the world seek the coveted U.S. Open championships at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Festivities leading up to the tournament’s start on Monday began last week with two fun-filled days of activities. Queens Day on Aug. 26 offered guests a range of events and programs centered around the “World’s Borough,” while Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on Aug. 29 featured music, entertainment, tennis exhibitions and other activities geared at the younger generation of tennis fans.

The real business of the tournament got underway on Monday with the start of the two-week U.S. Open tournament, headlined by a grand opening ceremony in the evening on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Billie Jean King herself helped welcome guests, while Josh Groban and Vanessa Williams performed for the crowd.

Though Day One of this year’s open featured a few surprising upsets, including the ouster of Ken Nishikori, last year’s open runner-up, the men’s and women’s top seeds — Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams — were both victorious in their first-round matches.

When eyes weren’t on the action, fans across Arthur Ashe Stadium did their share of people watching, and they weren’t disappointed in finding a number of celebrities in attendance such as Alec Baldwin, Katie Couric and Ben Stiller.


US 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.


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.


Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day will kick off US Open with day of tennis and music

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography


The 20th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, taking place on August 29 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, is set to be an exciting, star-studded time for kids and parents alike.

The event will run from 9:30 a.m. till 4 p.m. and serves as the kickoff for the 2015 U.S. Open, which will take place from August 31 to September 13. Between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., families can enjoy a wide variety of free tennis games aimed at kids, listen to live music and partake in numerous other fun activities such as face painting, storytelling and a juggling workshop.

From 1 to 3 p.m., visitors can watch tennis superstars such as recent Wimbledon Champion Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic show off their skills in exhibition matches and skill competitions, as well as live musical performances by up-and-coming artists Bea Miller, Kalin and Myles, Natalie La Rose, Jacob Whitesides and American Authors.

General admission promenade tickets for the event are on sale for $10, while loge tickets cost $25.

Presented by Hess, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day helps to promote youth tennis and encourages children of all ages to develop healthy habits through fun activities. It is also a day to remember the life and legacy of Arthur Ashe, a tennis legend and humanitarian.

“It’s a historic occasion for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, as we mark two decades of bringing the best in tennis and music together on a truly special day for families,” said Gordon Smith, USTA executive director and chief operating officer. “The event also captures the spirit and vigor of Arthur Ashe and is a fantastic way of encouraging youth to be active in tennis and life, while developing healthy habits early on.”


Josh Groban to perform at US Open opening night ceremony

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of USTA

The U.S. Open’s opening night ceremony in Queens will once again feature a chart-topping singer, and the National Tennis Center’s namesake will also make a special appearance.

Multiplatinum-selling artist Josh Groban is scheduled to perform at the Monday, Aug. 31, event that kicks off the annual tennis tournament at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced Thursday. Groban, who just released his seventh studio album, “Stages,” this April, broke into the music scene in the early 2000s and has sold millions of records worldwide.

Joining him at the ceremony will be tennis legend Billie Jean King, who will be on the court to welcome fans to the opening night along with USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams.

King won her first U.S. Open singles championship in 1967, going on to clinch three more titles. The USTA Tennis Center was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006.

This year’s U.S. Open will take place from Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 at the tennis center. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

The opening ceremony will be shown live on ESPN 2 as part of the network’s coverage of the tournament.


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.


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.


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.


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.


PHOTOS: 2014 US Open

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

Take a look at The Queens Courier’s photo gallery from the 2014 US Open featuring pictures of the players, fans, including several celebrities you might recognize, and more. Check back later for additional photos from the tournament,



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.