Today’s news:

USTA opens site for indoor tennis

Casual and professional tennis players in Queens now have a place to practice their serves during the off−season.

The U.S. Tennis Association unveiled its new indoor tennis facility Tuesday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and invited some young tennis rookies from a Jamaica elementary school to give it a test run. The 245,000−square−foot center, scheduled to fully open next month, features 12 tennis courts on two floors that will be open year−round.

“This is a long time coming,” said Pat McEnroe, a Douglaston native and the captain of the US Davis Cup team. “We’ve had indoor courts before, but to have a brand−spanking new center ... is great.”

Pat McEnroe, younger brother of four−time US Open champion John McEnroe, remarked at the facility’s state−of−the−art features. In addition to the well−lit courts, the $60 million center has a fitness center with new gym equipment, men and women’s locker rooms and a retail merchandize warehouse.

Although the facility will be used to help train US Tennis Association players for professional tournaments around the world, it will also be used by Queens−based grassroots programs too. USTA staff members helped demonstrate some tennis workshops to 40 students from PS 223 in Jamaica.

Principal Howard Hudson enjoyed seeing his students have fun as they learned how to serve a perfect ace and make quick returns to their opponents.

“It extends beyond the school,” he said of the tennis workshops. “Going somewhere after school that’s safe — it’s an extension of the school community.”

The indoor tennis court will be open to the public for recreational and professional training, expanding the scope of tennis programs already offered at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, according to Daniel Zausner, managing director of the National Tennis Center.

Zausner remarked that the project was beneficial to city athletes, since the souring economy has made it difficult for private companies to construct new courts.

“We’re glad to pick up that slack,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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