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USTA National Tennis Center is home to New York boys tennis championships


As young people growing up, it is natural for student-athletes to idolize professional athletes in their given sports and to dreamingly aspire to one day also compete on the biggest stages in the most famous and opulent sports venues in existence.

For example, a young basketball player might yearn to lace up his shoes and play for the National Basketball Association New York Knicks in legendary Madison Square Garden.

A fledgling National Football League player might look to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as where he would hope to one day pull on his Packers’ shoulder pads on a brisk autumn Sunday afternoon.

In the sport of tennis, the ultimate setting for any player might be Centre Court at the U.S. Open at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.

However, for many high school student-athletes in New York, that latter fantasy is reality as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) holds its boys state championships in that very facility.

Every spring since 1981, boys from around the state have converged on this legendary venue to compete in the NYSPHSAA Boys Singles and Doubles Tennis championships. Under the direction of Nina Van Erk, the NYSPHSAA executive director and former National Federation of State High School Associations president, the tournament brings in the champions from the association’s 11 sections, as well as the Public School Athletic League of New York City.

The venue has been home to the U.S. Open Grand Slam tennis tournament since it opened in 1978. Operated by the U.S. Tennis Association, the facility has 22 courts within its 46½ acres and 11 in its adjoining park. The complex’s three stadiums are among the largest tennis stadiums in the world, with Arthur Ashe Stadium topping the global list with a listed capacity of 23,200.

The most prominent event to be held there is the U.S. Open Championship, which is held every August and September during the two weeks before and after Labor Day Weekend. It is the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam each year, with the other three being the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon.

Many of the former NYSPHSAA state champions and place-winners have distinguished themselves following their high school days.

Among them is Ricky Becker, who was a 1992 state champion player from Roslyn High School. He went on to play on two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship teams at Stanford (California) University, worked for ESPN and Tennis Magazine, and played on the satellite tour.

Two other accomplished tournament alums are brothers Marc Wurtzman and Jeremy Wurtzman.

Marc, who was a state champion at Brighton High School in 1993, was a four-year letterwinner at Ohio State University, and subsequently coached there and at the University of Wisconsin. He currently is a tennis professional at the Racquet Club of Columbus, Ohio.

His younger brother, Jeremy, was a state semifinalist in 1996 and 1997. Jeremy also played at Ohio State University, where he earned All-American status and won the NCAA indoor championship in 2004. He currently is the women’s tennis coach at the University of Denver (Colorado).

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