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Former U.S. Open Site to Host New Tournament for 100th Anniversary

QUEENS — It's a new spin on a classic.

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, a Forest Hills tennis club that was once home to the U.S. Open and served as a concert venue for The Beatles and Rolling Stones, is planning a blowout bash, including clinics and concerts as well as a new tournament.

And while the West Side Tennis Club last hosted the U.S. Open more than 30 years ago, it is planning an expansion, with a fitness facility, gym, squash courts, covered tennis courts and maybe even a hall of fame.

The new tournament, the New York Open, will be aimed at both pros and amateurs from the city and held for the first time between July 4-7, as Patch first reported.

“This will be the biggest tournament in the city besides the U.S. Open,” said Bob Ingersole, the West Side Tennis Club's director.

The New York Open, he said, will include singles, doubles and mixed doubles. It will be open to anyone, but the players must get selected.

Some competitors will come from the City Parks Tournament. Others will be selected based on their pro rankings.

“We are starting it this year but we think it might grow into a huge annual event,” Ingersole said.

But USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said that the new tournament won't compete with the U.S. Open.

"I think anything that increases people’s opportunites to play the games, is a good thing for tennis," he said. "It's a different concept built around energizing New York tennis players."

There will also be social events accompanying the tournament. “We’ll have bands playing and we’ll be doing a tennis carnival down on the red clay courts for the kids,” Ingersole said.

In June, the club will also hold a big gala, which will feature concerts, tennis carnivals and free clinics, according to Ingersole.

On Aug. 16, the club is planning to organize another big anniversary celebration. The details are still being worked out, Ingersole said, but plans include inviting past Grand Slam winners.

The West Side Tennis Club was founded in 1892 in Manhattan, and moved to Forest Hills 100 years ago.

With its 15,000-seat stadium and 38 courts, it has played a prominent role in the city’s tennis for many years.

The U.S. Open was held there until 1978, before moving to the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Billie Jean King all played there.

The stadium also hosted numerous concerts, including The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra.

Over the years, Ingersole said, the club’s focus shifted from serious tennis players towards a family membership.

With programs like Mommy and Me, after-school activities for high school students and tennis camps for juniors, the club is extremely popular in the area.

It has about 800 members, and about half of them are active tennis players, Ingersole said. “At any given weekend we have about 200 players here,” he said.

It still holds many national tournaments, including the National Women's Grass Court Championships in July and the National Men's 40, 55 & 60 Grass Court Championships in September.