| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff
The 2020 New York Tennis Expo featured a large tennis clinic for kids with Autism taught by local high school and college players, as well as legendary coach Nick Bollettieri.

 

One of the highlights each year in the Long Island and Metro tennis communities has been the New York Tennis Expo that is hosted by Long Island and New York Tennis Magazine, and is a celebration of all things tennis that brings the community and industry together for a free day of fun.

The event has become the largest tennis expo anywhere in the country, and has come a long way throughout its decade of existence, which includes three different locations and constant innovation.



Attendees gather around the New York Tennis Expo Broadcast Plaza for the 2020 New York Open Draw Ceremony. 


“It's this type of fun, grassroots tennis which helps us to grow the game,” said Jonathan Klee, the USTA Long Island Region President.

In 2009, the first Expo was held on the campus of Farmingdale State College with more than 1,200 attendees, the most attended event in the Section outside of the US Open. The goal was to provide a way for consumers and providers in the tennis industry to have a face-to-face interaction, as well as to showcase all aspects of the sport to families by having something for everyone, which would benefit the community as a whole.

That first installment of the event established a successful format that featured an array of activities to do from walking the sold-out exhibit hall, taking part in on-court playing options, learning from some of the best in the industry at the speaker panels and enjoying our activity zone which had interactive video games and other racket sports.



The first New York Tennis Expo was held at Farmingdale State College in 2009. 


After a successful couple of years at Farmingdale, the Expo outgrew the location and it was time to move to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. By doing so, we were able to add options like an expanded Kids and Activity Zone, including a speed serve booth, have clinics on the U.S. Open show courts and provide tours of Arthur Ashe Stadium for attendees, plus so much more. Featured guest speakers included Nick Bollettieri, Tim Mayotte and Sean Hannity, as the event’s attendees soared above 3,500 and the Expo continued establishing itself as one of the area’s premier tennis events.

In 2018, the New York Open ATP Tour 250 event was set to debut on Long Island, and organizers asked us to host the Expo on the opening day of their tournament. This partnership brought the Expo back to Long Island, to Nassau Coliseum, and allowed for additional features which continued the event’s growth. The stars of the tournament spoke on the panels, and took part in autograph sessions, and attendees could watch the players practice as they prepared for the tournament. There were new activities such as beach tennis, gaga ball, a mechanical bull and so much more as we ensured the event had something for everyone.



Beach tennis has become one of the more popular activities to do at the New York Tennis Expo. 


A cool new feature was the addition of the Draw Ceremony which took place during the Expo, where attendees could participate in pulling the names of the draw, as well as a tennis fashion show, where local high school players modeled the latest in tennis apparel. The Draw Ceremony was featured on the Expo’s Broadcast Plaza, which also housed interviews with businesses and guests which were then sent out and shared to the public, creating a well-rounded multimedia event.

All of this converged to create the largest event yet in 2020 and is an indicator of the event’s continued growth, with more than 6,500 attending in February 2020 (pre-pandemic). Perhaps the Expo’s greatest achievement has been the involvement of local charities. Last year we held an Autism Tennis Clinic on the Grandstand Court of the New York Open, with dozens of instructors bringing tennis to a number of local groups that help children with autism. At the 2020 Expo, we honored local Junior Team Tennis players who had the opportunity to talk with and take pictures with tennis legend Jim Courier.

In addition to Bollettieri, the Expo has had celebrity guests and tennis players such as Andy Roddick, Eugenie Bouchard, Steve Johnson, Hannah Berner, Jack Sock and many more. Players took part in autograph sessions, and joined local coaches on our speaker panels. These panels provide invaluable information for both parents and players as professional players, former college players and other coaches talk about their life experiences. 

The Expo did not set out to be an annual event, but because of the demand, we ran the event three consecutive years from 2018-2020, with attendance increasing each year. Of course, we were unable to hold an Expo in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we do expect to return in 2022.

“We have heard great feedback from both attendees and vendors each year, and we are so excited to see the continued growth of the Expo,” said Sickmen. “One of the goals of the event is to create a more unified tennis community, create new players and build excitement for the sport. We have seen from the massive attendance growth as well as sold-out exhibit space each year that the demand for this event is there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold an Expo in 2021, but will continue innovating and building to provide an even better event in 2022.”



The latest tennis apparel is always on display at the New York Tennis Expo as high school players model clothes from top brands.


See what they are saying about the Expo

“I never picked up a racquet before, but was so inspired by the speeches and activities at the Expo that I can’t wait for next year’s event,” said attendee Ruhima Hajang in 2013. “I will now be playing tennis full-time thanks to my experience here today.”

“I would say our favorite part has been the activities for the kids,” said Simone Martin, an attendee in 2020 from Queens who brought her two children to the Expo. “They loved the 10 & Under courts, and they also got to play on the court where the professionals are going to play. The interactive activities going on here have been great as well.”

“The Expo seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year. USTA Eastern was proud to help sponsor and coordinate our Net Gen programming with the event which allowed children of all ages to play on the Black Courts with College, High School and local club volunteers. Combining the Expo with the qualifiers was a win-win situation for everyone in that it brought the Long Island tennis community together with vendors in a carnival like atmosphere while also watching great quality tennis.” – Jonathan Klee, Regional Director, USTA Eastern Long Island Region

“The New York Tennis Expo is an incredible event because it brings area tennis enthusiasts together with fun, excitement, education and service to the local community. The Expo grows the sport by raising awareness of the wealth of tennis opportunities in the New York area.” – Steve Kaplan, Owner and Managing Director, Bethpage Park Tennis Center

"The NY Tennis Expo was a wonderful opportunity to connect with young tennis players and their families.” – Louisa Childs, Head of School, Dwight Global Online School

“Amazing job by David Sickmen and his staff. It just gets bigger and better every year!” - Kathy Miller, General Manager, Carefree Racquet Club

“The New York Tennis Expo is an event we look forward to every year at the Evert Tennis Academy. The expo brings in tennis families from all across the state of New York and it is a great networking tool that we will use for years to come! The Expo staff was tremendous and it was overall another great experience!” – Andrew Parker, Director of Sales and Marketing, Evert Tennis Academy

"The New York Tennis Expo continues to be a unique event that brings together the entire tennis world. We were once again thrilled to be a sponsor of the event, and were able to connect with players and parents from the Long Island and New York area, and Nick Bollettieri was thrilled to take part in the speaker sessions, clinics and autograph signings." – David Cotrone, Director of Business Development, IMG Academy

“Point Set was proud to once again be a part of the New York Tennis Expo. The event continues to grow every year and there is no better way for us to showcase our programs and classes then by being able to sit down in front of the thousands and thousands of attendees that come out for the Expo. We look forward to coming back again next year!” – Lori Sarnelli, Club Manager, Point Set Tennis

“The New York Tennis Expo was clearly the place to be for tennis enthusiasts. The atmosphere was exciting, with lots of family-friendly activities and exhibitors from all facets of the industry. A well-attended event, providing us the exposure and brand awareness we were hoping for.” — Ian McCormick, Vice President Sales and Marketing, The Farley Group

"The event exceeded our expectations in every way. Not only did we interact with tennis families and enthusiasts from the local area, but we also made fantastic new connections with other professionals in the tennis industry. We were thrilled with the amount of traffic at our table, and the level of interest in our tennis travel programs. We anticipate that the event will yield many new clients and partners for Elite Tennis Travel, and we will surely be back next year. Congratulations to the team at Long Island and New York Tennis Magazine for executing such a fun and professionally rewarding event!" — Lisa Scholtes, Managing Partner, Elite Tennis Travel