At The Open With Marcia Frost...
Saturday, August 24th-Arthur Ashe Kids Day
There were activities galore throughout the Tennis Center and admission into the grounds was free for all. Kids were treated to exhibits such as the Lincoln's Navigate Your Shot with Luke Jensen the Finger Smear, USA High Performance Tennis Director Paul Annacone at the Nike Swash Challenge, Cartoon Network Smash Tennis, and the Target Tennis Challenge. Between the many exhibitions, face painting and giveaways, fans lined up to see pros like Serena Williams and Andre Agassi practice.
The main event was the stadium show. Tickets were needed for this show, which benefitted the USA Tennis National Junior Tennis League, an organization founded by Arthur Ashe. The show was started a half hour earlier than original planned because of the wet forecast. The rain was not held off by the enormous talent participating, but no one seemed to mind.
The show was started by the hosts -- Olympic Gold Medalist Summer Sanders and MTV VJ Quddus reminding everyone that they were there to "pay tribute to a man who was not only a great tennis player, but a great humanitarian." It was not long before the first musical act, Mario, took the stage to perform Just A Friend to the screaming crowd. He was followed by hometown favorite Vanessa Carleton and her hit Ordinary Day. The final act was BBMak, who sang there top 40 song, Out Of My Heart.
Between all the fantastic music, some of tennis' top players helped out the causes. The first exhibition was Survivor Tennis, played by Ashley Harkleroad, Alex Kim, Jeff Morrison and Alexandra Stevenson. Each player was "voted off" by the audience until Alexandra was the last one standing. In a contest that raised money for their favorite charities, Anna Kournikova, James Blake, Serena Williams and junior Malika Rose participated in the American Express Skills Challenge. While all the players won money for their favorite causes, Anna Kournikova was the biggest winner with $35,000 for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
The final stadium event was a doubles match between the "Young and Old." Legends Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras teamed up against newcomers James Blake and Andy Roddick. The youngsters won -- though only by a point.
In a fitting tribute to Arthur Ashe, there were 1,000 guests at the event who were given tickets because they were "affected by 9/11." Arthur Ashe would be proud to call today his own.
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