Players set for US Open

Serena Williams, of the United States, returns to Belinda Bencic, of Switzerland, during the Rogers Cup semifinal tennis tournament, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015 in Toronto.
Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press via Associated Press

While Serena Williams did not live up to expectations to be the winner of the recent Rogers Cup in Canada, she still feels confident that she will enter the upcoming women’s singles event of the United States Open Tennis Championships. The top ranked player in the world on the distaff side is set to perform at her best in the tournament that starts a week from Monday in New York.

Should she live up to expectations in what is expected to be a tough tournament where any upset can occur at any given time, all indications are that she should successfully defend her title during a decent season that she is having.

The two-week tournament that actually begins with a qualifying tourney next has all-day action beginning in the late morning and going under the lights. Separate sessions are during the day and in the evening. Some sessions are already sold out. And all the construction that was done to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has been completed. But the roof won’t be open until 2016.

Williams’ main concern is to do well at the U.S. Open, where all tennis buffs will be focused on her and what she has accomplished this season. She is a definite crowd pleaser here in Queens.

According to reports she is fit, happy and most important healthy.

The only question now is her goal to capture another U.S. Open title, which if she does, will mark her fourth straight one and once again defend her title. She turned in a decent summer, highlighted by her victory at Wimbledon.

“Hopefully, the fans will be cheering me on,” she added.

Besides the main draw of each of the five tournaments, that include men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles, the National Tennis Center will host its annual Arthur Ashe / Kids’ Day on Saturday, Aug. 29. It all begins bright and early at 9:30 am with interactive games and family activities for the entire morning. Then the program goes into the afternoon when there will be a show, which should last for about two hours. The fans will be able to watch the professional players practice on the entire courts, including those on Louis Armstrong Stadium, and Court 17.

The following day is an off day as the staff will be getting ready for the entire tournament.

Next week begins the qualifying tournament for both men and women. During this time, the fans will be able to see the future stars in action and up close. These players, an international field, could produce the future professionals, including U.S. Open players. This is where it all begins.

Turning away from the actual competition that offers prize money, there will be a day for the ElmCor Center’s Day Camp, which has a summer program. ElmCor is known more for basketball with a year-round program under new personnel. The camp date at the United States Tennis Association National Tennis Center has not as yet been determined.

Last summer, the kids from the Corona-based center were guests of the USTA to put on an exhibition for about an hour. And after the draw was completed, Serena Williams helped with the demonstrations on the court. Last year marked the first time ElmCor was involved in the United States Open tournament as the two sporting facilities are located near each other.

“The USTA set it up,” said State Assemblyman Jeff Aubry. “This will be a great day for our kids and our programs. The commitment of the USTA was to reach out into the neighborhood.” And so far it has worked out.

The tennis buffs from the area are expected to support the ElmCor children when the time comes next week.

Off the court, and as part of the activities of the U.S. Open, John McEnroe, a past winner of the men’s singles championship in Queens and a member of the tennis Hall of Fame, along with younger brother Patrick McEnroe, who was a Davis Cup Captain for the United States, and Rafael Nadal who has an outside chance at winning the U.S. Open singles title, will be on hand at the Johnny MacTennis Project Benefit Matches on Aug. 26 at Sportime Randall’s Island, not too far from the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Corona Park.

They will be part of the benefit program and exhibition matches that will also feature Australian Nick Kyrgios and other tennis players in support of the Johnny Mac Tennis Project which provides scholarships, coaching, transportation and other financial assistance to qualified young tennis players in the greater New York area.

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