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No place like home for Eastern men’s 4.0 squad

October 18, 2013 09:45 PM
Joe Khine and his 4.0 Eastern men's squad play their home matches at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open.
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
How many USTA league teams can say they play their league matches in a venue that hosts one of the world’s four Grand Slam tennis tournaments?
The men’s Eastern Section team from Flushing, N.Y., is the only team playing at the 2013 USTA League Adult 40 & Over 4.0 National Championships that can make that claim.
Led by co-captain Joe Khine, a 41-year-old resident Forest Hills, N.Y., the team played the majority of its league matches at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park – the home to the US Open since 1978 and one of the world’s largest public tennis facilities.
 “The courts are fantastic,” Khine said. “They don’t let us go into the big stadiums, but on the outside courts, even though the fans aren’t there, you can imagine that you’re playing in front of fans. They do a great job of maintaining those courts regardless of the time you go and play.”
Does playing in the shadows of Arthur Ashe Stadium give the Eastern men’s team an advantage over their opponents?
According to Khine, the only advantage of playing at the National Tennis Center is the uniformity of the courts.
“The surface and the speed of the ball is the same. It’s the same as the US Open. They try to have the same standards,” Khine said. “If you play on public courts, the surface could be too quick or too slow. At the NTC, it’s medium. It’s definitely not fast.”
Khine, who lives about five minutes from the site, said playing USTA League tennis at the site of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament is unique because every time he steps on the grounds, he feels like he’s going to the US Open.
“It’s great that the USTA lets the public play on the NTC grounds. It’s not like Wimbledon or a club where you have to have a membership,” he said.  “It’s a fantastic experience.  We’re lucky to live around the neighborhood.”
For more information on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, click here.
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