Davis Cup was played last weekend at the historic Forest Hills Stadium at the West Side Tennis Club for the first time since 1959.
The club hopes it won’t be another 62 years before it happens again.
South Africa defeated Venezuela 4-0 in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Group II Playoff Series, highlighted by victories in singles and doubles by rising ATP star Lloyd Harris, fresh off reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open the previous week just three miles down the road also in Queens, New York. With the execution of this event under its belt, the long-time former home of the U.S. Open and U.S. Championships is in the market to host more Davis Cup matches or other big tennis events in the near future.
“We would love to host more Davis Cup matches or other big pro events at Forest Hills Stadium,” said Jason Weir-Smith. “The West Side Tennis Club has proven to be a suitable and enjoyable site for players and fans with an unparalleled tennis history in the United States. With New York, and specifically the borough of Queens, being one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the world, Forest Hills would be particularly attractive for national team events or tournaments with popular international tennis stars.”
The South Africa vs. Venezuela Davis Cup series was pulled together with just over one month of lead time. While Tennis South Africa, the host nation for the series, chose not to pay associated production and permitting fees to allow for the event to be ticketed for the general public, the club received almost a thousand email inquiries for tickets for the event. The event was attended by 200 enthusiastic invitation-only guests.
“People are nostalgic for tennis at Forest Hills and those who perhaps are too young to see pro tennis here have certainly seen videos and pictures that display the majesty, beauty and history of the club,” said Weir-Smith.
Following his opening singles victory over Venezuela, Harris, the South African No. 1 player, said competing on the Forest Hills Stadium court was “very special.”
“This is an incredible venue, so much history,” Harris said. “I learned so much about this venue and its history over the last few days. I’m obviously very, very honored to be playing and in a special place.”
“It’s a great honor for me to represent my country, especially at a place like this,” said South African No. 2 Philip Henning. “We love our sport, and this place is one of the places with the most history for tennis. I think a lot of big names played on this court.”
Said Venezuelan No. 1 player Ricardo Rodriguez following his singles loss to Henning, “As a player you always dream to be in the historic venues and the important sites and the most famous stadiums and arenas all over the world, and this is one of them. So, even though I lost, I still feel proud. I still feel lucky to be here.”
The West Side Tennis Club features 40 tennis courts on five surfaces, grass, red clay, Har-Tru courts, DecoTurf hard courts and synthetic grass. The 13,000-seat horseshoe-shaped Forest Hills Stadium was christened on August 11, 1923 with the Wightman Cup matches and hosted the finals of the U.S. Championships and U.S. Open from 1923 to 1977. The stadium last hosted Davis Cup in 1959 when Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Neale Fraser led Australia to the Davis Cup title with a 3-2 victory over the United States team led by Alex Olmedo, Butch Buchholz and Barry MacKay.