Andy Roddick was among the stars who appeared at Arthur Ashe Kids' Day 2009

Andy Roddick was among the stars who appeared at Arthur Ashe Kids' Day 2009

It's the traditional event held annually preceding the US Open--the Annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day took full swing Saturday.

The United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens hosted a stadium full of children to engage in free, family-friendly events. The event is dedicated to the youngest fans and players of tennis.

Gates opened for the grounds festival at 9:30 a.m. at which point kids were free to partake in face painting, hair braiding, kids tennis clinics, player practices, autograph signings, and more. Free festivities come to an end at 1pm, at which point the stadium show began, hosted by TV personalities Susie Castillo and Quddus, with musical performances by favorites including Jordin Sparks, Honor Society and Justin Bieber. This was followed at 2 p.m. by a two-hour stadium show of professional entertainment and exhibition matches.

" Will Ferrell is our special guest," said Pierce O'Neil, chief business officer for the United States Tennis Association, which produces Kids' Day with Hess, a corporate sponsor. "He will be onstage and on the courts." Those who consider the sport a strictly serious matter watched athletes like Andy Roddick, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova in their element.

The program, Mr. O'Neil said, "is to honor the legacy of Arthur Ashe," who in addition to being a tennis champion helped involve children in the sport.

The event, which is largely fitness-oriented, offers young visitors the chance to try speed tennis, in which they practice hitting lightweight balls hard; have their serving speeds measured on radar; and tackle an obstacle course.

Advanced young players can try Beat the Pro, one-on-one mini-matches with experts. And children of any age can sample the game through QuickStart Tennis, a program using undersize courts and equipment. "It's learning to play, on a smaller scale," explained Pamela Carton, the grounds festival's producer.