The Week That Was: A Different Kind of US Open

     Last Monday Governor Cuomo broke the news at his daily briefing that the 2020 US Open will be taking place as scheduled from August 31st through September 13th. The next day United States Tennis Association executives gathered at Arthur Ashe Stadium and conducted a press conference via Zoom technology. 

     The USTA officials put on their best collective faces as they quickly showed a video of an enthusiastic Serena Williams announcing she was excited to be returning to play at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In addition the USTA announced there would be the traditional field of 128 male and female players and the available prize money would be approximately $53 million.

     The US Open will not be the only professional tennis tournament taking place at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this summer. The Western & Southern Open, which is normally held in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, will be relocating to Queens the week before the start of the US Open effectively replacing the Qualifying Tournament for wild cards. There will be $7 million in prize money for Western & Southern Open participants.

     So much for the good news.

     As is the case with other sports starting to begin play in this COVID-19 era there will be neither fans nor media at this year’s open.

    USTA physician and board member Dr. Brian Hainline emphasized the concept of creating a bubble where tennis players would be tested for the virus at their hotels and then come to the King Tennis Center and return to their hotel. He did not have a satisfactory answer when a reporter asked him if it’s realistic to assume that athletes wouldn’t be tempted to sneak out of that bubble other than stating that athletes have a fiduciary duty to each other.

     These restrictions, combined with heath risks of traveling, have made many players understandably hesitant to take part in this year’s Open. Roger Federer already announced he’s be passing on it in order to recover from knee surgery. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have previously expressed their reservations.

     Could this finally be the year of perennial American also-ran John Isner wins a major title? Perhaps Merrick’s own Noah Rubin, whose family is from Bayside, can make a run.

     Tennis fans who want to see professional tennis, albeit in a more low stakes manner, can travel to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia (a favorite getaway of Washington politicos) and catch World Team Tennis as all the teams will be playing there including our own New York Empire. Among the bigger names who will be part of this year’s WTT lineup are Sloane Stephens, Francis Tiafoe, Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Donald Young, Milos Raonic, Genie Bouchard, and retired legends, Kim Clijsters and Mardy Fish.

   CBS Sports Network will be televising a number of WTT matches.

    While it’s almost impossible to hear any music on New York’s long-running oldies, er I mean “classic hits” station, WCBS-FM, that was recorded before 1980, there are happily more listening options than ever for fans of ‘60s and ‘70s tunes.

      On terrestrial radio Farmingdale’s WHLI (1100 AM) has changed formats from crooners of my parents’ generation as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, and so on, to baby boomer oldies. WHLI can be picked up on radios in most parts of Queens and it can also be heard on the Internet and vocal devices. 

      Fans of the music of the  aforementioned singers which WHLI dropped can hear them on Palm Springs, California’s KWXY which can heard online ( and on all voice-activated devices. KWXY has become a guilty pleasure for me.

     Satellite radio’s Sirius XM was able to get off the ground 20 years ago because subscribers were willing to pay for music they loved but were having trouble finding with the passage of time on either the AM or FM radio bands.

     Sirius XM devotes a channel for the music from every decade ranging from the 1950s through  today. Each Saturday afternoon at 2 PM on its 60s on 6 channel, veteran Philadelphia disc jockey  Dave Hoeffel counts down the Billboard Top 40 hits from that week during a random year from the 1960s. It’s also available on demand on Sirius XM’s website. Hoeffel is a terrific raconteur who provides great information nuggets about many of the records he plays.

     You can find oldies outlets all over the Internet and many are quite good. My favorite however is Pop Gold Radio ( run by longtime New Jersey radio personality and diehard Mets fan Don Tandler. Each Saturday Tandler counts down the hit singles of that week in a given year from late 1950s through the mid 1980s based on sales and airplay from a different local radio station across the country. He generally favors New York radio legends WABC and WMCA but he has been known to spotlight Philadelphia’s WFIL and WIBG as well as Chicago’s WLS and Los Angeles’s KHJ.

     Every weekday from noon to one Tandler plays your requests on the air which leads to a very eclectic hour of listening.

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