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Net Notes - A Tennis Now Blog

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Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

Second Serve


By Nick Georgandis

The lights are coming back on next month at the West Side Tennis Club in Queens, but not for the likes of Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams.

The club's Tennis Bowl, which hosted 60 US Opens between 1915 and 1977 but also saw multiple legendary concerts, is attempting to bring back the music, starting with a "trial concert" on Aug. 28 featuring popular band Mumford & Sons.

Because the area is considerably more developed than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, the concert will serve as a barometer to see if the noise from a concert disturbs the surrounding residential area.

If Mumford & Sons pass the neighborhood smell test, promoters say they envisage 18 more shows at the Tennis Bowl in the next three or four years.

The club has been at its current location since 1912, and the stadium, with 14,000 seats, was built in 1923 because the "United States Lawn Tennis Association National Championship" also known as the US Open, had become so popular.

The stadium has seen staggering history, including Althea Gibson becoming the first black player to play (1950) and win (1957) in a Grand Slam event, and Arthur Ashe the first black man to win a Grand Slam (1968) - also the first year the US Open was on television.

The athletes that the stadium has seen might be overmatched by the music talent. The 1964 Forest Hills Music Festival held there featured The Beatles, Joan Baez, Johnny Mathis, Barbara Streisand, Harry Belafonte, Count Basie and comedy from Woody Allen.

Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and the Who also played the Tennis Bowl, and it also gave birth to one of the greatest rock'n'roll stories of all.

In 1967, the Monkees were scheduled to play and their fervent fan base filled the arena. They had little patience for the opening act, some wild-haired guy wailing on a guitar named Jimi Hendrix, and began to scream for the Monkees and boo Hendrix, who ultimately responded by flipping them all off and leaving the stage.