| By Herbert Glenn

The inaugural New York Open professional tennis championships were held at the historic West Side Tennis Club (where the U..S Open was founded) in 2013. To increase access to the general public and provide free tickets to fans, Tennis in New York Inc., the non-profit running the tournament, moved the event to the legendary Central Park Tennis Courts near 93rd street and Central Park West in 2014. This tournament, which accepted the best professional and amateur tennis players living or visiting New York City on the July 4th weekend, returned to the Central Park Tennis Courts this year.

Dale Caldwell, a former USTA Board Member and the founder and tournament chair of the New York Open stated “this year’s tournament exceeded all expectations. We had great weather, wonderful spectators and fantastic matches. All of the finalists in both the Men’s and Women’s Singles tournaments were international touring professionals with global rankings.” Spectator Velvor Rhone, who has attended all three New York Opens, stated “this year’s New York Open was the best one yet. The tennis and weather were fantastic.”

Winston Lin, a full-time touring professional, the former number one Columbia University player and the winner of the 2013 New York Open, won the Men’s Singles Championship in a thrilling two-hour three set match against touring pro and former number one St. John’s player Gary Kushnarovich 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-4.

The score of the Women’s Singles Final was not as close, however, it was a very competitive match with Russian touring pro Nika Kukharchuk beating Malika Rose, a touring pro from Florida 6-1, 6-2. The winners of the Men’s and Women’s Championships received $2,000 and a silver plate. The Finalists each received $1,000 and a silver plate for their efforts in the tournament.

On Saturday, July 4, children and adults were given free tennis lessons to celebrate the New York Open’s “David Dinkins Family Day” named in honor of the former New York City Mayor who has been a big supporter of both Tennis in New York, Inc. and the New York Open. Donald Tiller, an adult participant in the free tennis lessons, said “I had never picked up a racquet before but I had a lot of fun. I am still sore from using muscles I had never used before.” 

In addition to great tennis and weather, this year’s tournament included the first annual New York Open Mindfulness Festival on July 3-5 led by Trish Miele and Clarisa Romero. Miele explained that “tennis and mindfulness became linked forever after the best-selling book The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallway outlined how being present in the moment was the secret of great tennis. We started this event to let New Yorkers know how mindfulness is an essential tool for personal and professional success.” Romero mentioned that “The Mindfulness Festival included extraordinary speakers like Dawn Brekke, Dave Charny, JJ Bruno, Joanie Terrizzi, Fran Swart, Roxanne Chess with Mercedes Luna providing mindfulness classes in Spanish to expand the reach of this life tool."

To demonstrate that tennis is a sport for people with special needs, the event included the first annual New York Open Autism Support Festival sponsored by the New York Chapter of the National Autism Association (NAA) and Sidekicks Respite. The festival took place over all three days of the tournament and included daily hikes through Central Park, tennis lessons, face painting, water balloon games and discussions on ways that mindfulness and yoga can help students on the Autism spectrum. Ken Siri, an organizer of the festival, said “participants in this year’s festival had a phenomenal time. We are looking forward to expanding this program next year so that this event will become a July 4th weekend destination for families touched by Autism.”