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Local Junior Tennis Enthusiasts Travel And Participate At New York’s Prestigious US Open

USTA’s Net Generation program provides young tennis players the opportunity to travel and visit the Open, one of four Grand Slam tournaments in the world, free of charge.
The Bucks County Tennis Association at the U.S. Open. Photo contributed.

Kids from across the country, including dozens from the Delaware Valley, traveled to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, to participate in the USTA Net Generation ‘On Court Experience’ at the U.S. Open tournament on Labor Day.

The U.S. Open is owned and organized by the non-profit United States Tennis Association (USTA), and revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, and television contracts is used to promote and support a variety of tennis initiatives throughout the United States.

Local players between the ages of 6-12 from the Bucks County Tennis Association in Langhorne, along with the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association in Robesonia and City of Reading Tennis, both in Berks County, received free grounds passes and had the opportunity to play on the famous courts as thousands of fans watched from the stands.

image 1 - Bucks County Beacon - Local Junior Tennis Enthusiasts Travel And Participate At New York’s Prestigious US Open

Conrad Weiser Tennis Association & City Of Reading Tennis at the U.S. Open.

Who qualifies for the On Court Experience? According to Ryan Knarr, Head Coach at Conrad Weiser, “You need to be able to maintain a rally and keep the ball going with a partner across the net consistently.” Knarr is also the President of the Conrad Weiser Tennis Association.

“There’s like so many things to do and learn,” said Isabella Chafin of Berks County, adding that watching the pros play had an impression on her. “When they would lose they wouldn’t get all down on themselves.” Chafin also added that seeing them play in person allowed her to see much more of the game versus watching tennis matches on television.

Net Generation participants arrive at the Open hours before the public which provides them great access to watch the pros practice. “We left at 4:30 in the morning,” Berks County’s Payton Masi said. His favorite part of the day was watching the pros “play it loose.”

“For them to go out into the largest tennis stadium in the world and get to play on that court… I think it just lights a fire under them,” said BCTA Coach Steve Johnson, who described the impact the USTA Net Generation program has on the junior players. “Now they’ve seen professionals play and they’ve seen the energy around it and it gives them a whole new perspective.”

“Oh my gosh. It was incredible,” said Eric Escoto of Bucks County. “It’s the biggest stadium in the world, and you’re just like, whoa. You look around and there’s a bunch of people.” Despite the many onlookers, Escoto believes he played well.
 
Grace Byrne, a player from the Bucks County Tennis Association, said that in addition to playing, she also got to watch a few matches. “I try and watch their footwork because that’s what my coach says I need to work on.”

USTA’s Net Generation strives to inspire the next generation of tennis players by making it easier for kids to learn about tennis and participate in the sport at schools and tennis clubs across the country.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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