On Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 the US Open was kicked off with a day of music and tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. A particularly exciting portion of this full-day festival of music and fun was the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess that included family-oriented fun and games and well as celebrity musical guests, all honoring American tennis legacy Arthur Ashe. The roster of this year’s musical talent included Hunter Hayes, Shawn Mendes, Madeline Beer, girl group McClain, The Vamps, and musical duo MKTO, on top of special appearances by DJ Salerno and celebrity trainer Shaun T. At approximately noon, an hour before the live stadium show, broadcast nationally on CBS, these artists and celebrities alike funneled into a Arthur Ashe Stadium Court for a brief media session before their performances.
22 year-old country singer Hunter Hayes walked in sporting a henna tattoo, and was loudly welcomed by the screams of every young girl in the stadium and then some. Hayes, somewhat of a musical prodigy with the ability to play 30 instruments, expressed excitement about his upcoming tour, appropriately entitled "Tattoo (Your Name)," which he announced recently on "The Today Show." The tour will kick off in October in Pennsylvania before snaking around for a month and a half and concluding in Ontario, Canada in December.
15 year-old Madison Beer also walked cheerfully, sporting a tennis skirt, and exuding as much enthusiasm as she was receiving. The young artist gained attention after her YouTube cover of “At Last” by Etta James was tweeted by Justin Bieber, who boasts the second largest Twitter following after Katy Perry. She has since signed with Island Records, and has released hit singles such as “Unbreakable” and “Melodies”. She is currently working on releasing more singles soon. She cites Britney Spears as a musical inspiration for her. “I loved Britney Spears growing up. She performed here, so it’s awesome that I get to be here.” When asked about what it was like going from posting a YouTube video to performing in front of thousands, she said: “The feeling is incredible … it’s so overwhelming hearing people scream my name.”
The line-up of performers also included up-and-coming Canadian teen artist Shawn Mendes, who performed his hit single “Life of the Party”. Beyond these headliners, numerous other acts were also present at the event, including Karina Rae, Zach Matari, and Hollywood Ending. The Free Grounds Festival, hosted prior to the live telecast, included hair beading and braiding, face painting, appearances by Nickelodeon characters, as well as a selection of other interactive tennis games. From the courts to the stage, it was an exciting day for all at the event that kicked off the US Open.
Nearby, Tennis legend James Blake and current players Sloane Stephens, Jack Sock and Monica Puig, joined American Express and the USTA to bring some philanthropic fun to the American Express Fan Experience Fan Court as part of American Express and the USTA’s Fresh Courts initiative. During this morning’s event, ten youth tennis players, five boys and five girls, from community tennis leagues in each of New York City’s five boroughs joined the tennis stars to show off their tennis skills in the fun, Fresh Courts Challenge during Arthur Ashe Kids Day.
Ziye Hu contributed reporting.