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All eyes on MSG for World Tennis Day

March 10, 2016 09:16 AM

By Jackie Finn, USTA.com

Related: 2016 World Tennis Day gallery 

There was electricity in the air at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, as 18,000 spectators congregated to watch four of the game's top stars compete at the BNP Paribas Showdown in celebration of World Tennis day.

The exhibition, which featured 21-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion and six-time US Open winner Serena Williams against former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and two-time Grand Slam men’s single champion Stan Wawrinka versus two-time US Open quarterfinalist Gael Monfils, is just one way the USTA introduces children and their parents to the game of tennis.

The evening’s celebration, now in its ninth year, also featured a youth tennis exhibition, providing kids the opportunity to get out on the floor of the World’s Most Famous Arena and hit some balls. 

This year, in addition to the youth tennis exhibition, four lucky kids were able to participate in the event in a unique way – they were treated to a “day in the life” of their favorite tennis athletes, including hair, makeup and additional VIP treatment, all patterned after one of the evening’s participants.

USTA.com spoke to the kids about the experience and what they love so much about the game of tennis:

John Henry Mills (dressed as Monfils): “I love that you can practice on your weaknesses and get better.”

Julia Wojtowicz (Wozniacki): “It’s my first time in Madison Square Garden and it’s really cool. I’m very excited. I can’t wait to go out on court.”

Sebastian Astorga (Wawrinka): “I get to play with my dad because he’s my coach.”

Chantajah Mills (Williams):  “I like how she [Serena] is so competitive and how she keeps trying even when she’s down. She never gives up.”

Although it is highlighted by the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the USTA extends the celebration of World Tennis day throughout the month of March – holding youth and family events across the country to showcase how fun and easy it is to get into the sport for a lifetime.

To find tennis events near you, and for more information on how families can get involved, visit youthtennis.com.

BNP_Paribas_Showdown_761_20160308From left: John Henry Mills, Sebastian Astorga, Julia Wojtowicz and Chantajah Mills