A group of Orlando kids had the experience of a lifetime last month as they traveled to New York to participate in a Net Generation “Kids on Court” activation in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the 2019 US Open.
Twenty-four kids from USTA National Campus youth programming took part in a youth tennis demonstration prior to a night match between Orlando resident Madison Keys and eventual US Open women’s semifinalist Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
In addition to the demonstration, seven-year-old Adanna Okereke participated in the pre-match coin toss and posed for a photo with the two star players.
Kids on Court, part of the USTA’s youth tennis brand, Net Generation, completed its third year of giving more than 1,500 youth tennis players from across the country the opportunity to play on the iconic courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open.
The program has expanded in each of the last two years to include more courts and more sessions during the US Open, impacting a greater number of youth tennis players from across the country. Activations took place prior to each of the first 10 day sessions on all of the US Open’s show courts, including Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand, and Court 17, as well as multiple outer courts. The Orlando group was one of five groups that had the privilege of doing their demonstration prior to a night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
For Keys, a Lake Nona resident who trains at the USTA National Campus, October marks an important month for the 24-year-old as National Bullying Prevention Month gets underway. That’s because Keys is an ambassador for “FearlesslyGirl,” an organization that aims to inspire confidence and empower young women to be kinder to themselves and to each other. Keys has been outspoken in her support of anti-bullying initiatives among young girls, particularly cyberbullying.
She has been an ambassador for the program since 2016 and has held multiple events throughout the country for young girls to spread the positive messages championed by FearlesslyGirl.
This summer, during the Orlando Storm’s inaugural World TeamTennis season, Keys and the Storm hosted a FearlesslyGirl Night, during which young female tennis players who participated in USTA National Campus programming were given a VIP experience at a Storm match.
Prior to the match, Keys and her mother, Christine, held a roundtable discussion with the girls and their parents, spotlighting the various ways in which Keys and FearlesslyGirl have been striving to create a “kinder girl world.”