They came from across the borough on Tuesday afternoon to show their patriotism and win a chance to sing at the upcoming US Open Tennis Tournament at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The United States Tennis Association, the national governing body for tennis in this country and the primary promoter of the sport at every level, held its seventh annual US Open casting call for children hoping to perform at the 2013 event.
It was the first time, according to Andrew Rhodes of DKC News, the public relations agency representing the USTA, that the event was actually held in Queens.
In prior years, the auditions took place at venues such as Radio City Music Hall and the Apollo Theater. This time around, hopefuls only had to travel to the Queens Theater in FMCP, a stone’s throw from the tournament’s home.
As the competition got under way, Meghan Chisholm, another member of the DKC team, said she anticipated between 50 and 100 youngsters showing up. All contestants had to be 12 or under.
First up was Paige Humphrey, 12, who left her home in Rockaway Beach at 9 a.m., assuring her a position at the head of the line for the 2 p.m. event.
Following her audition, she said, “It was very exciting for me. I like performing on stage. Hopefully, they’ll think I was good enough to be chosen.”
This wasn’t the first time she tried out, she said, having auditioned for several years running before taking a break the past two years.
As she’s reached the upper age limit, this will be her last shot.
“If chosen, I will be very happy,” she said.
At age seven, Mariah Smith, a second grader from St. Albans, was already making her third appearance at the singing competition.
Accompanied by her mother Charlene and grandmother Joselyn Supriana, Mariah said she was not at all nervous. She hopes to be a professional singer someday, citing Selene Gomez and Bridgit Mendler as her favorites.
“I thought she did wonderful,” her grandma said. “It made me proud. I hope she makes it this year.”
A rare male contestant, Scotty Coia, 11, of Bayside, took his first shot at stardom, feeling confident after he performed.
“I play piano and I have perfect pitch,” he said. “I sing pretty good.”
In addition to this audition, contestants from across the country were invited to a first-ever nationwide DVD open casting call.
Both groups of contestants were asked to perform an a cappella rendition of “America, the Beautiful,” the song they would sing at the Open.
According to Rhodes, some 175 DVD entries were received by the May 10 cutoff date.
Those entries, as well as those who auditioned in person, were to be reviewed by a panel of judges from the music and entertainment industries.
One of the judges on hand on Tuesday was Broadway veteran Ray Roderick, who said the panel was looking for young people “with the ability to sing,” performers who are “exciting and not afraid to sing in front of people.” He was also looking for youngsters with “beautiful personalities and the ability to be respectful with the song.”
A select number of contestants will be chosen to participate in a call-back audition, to be held at the NTC on July 1. Final selections will be announced in mid-July.
Winners will receive a US Open gift bag and tickets to their performance session, when they will singduring the night sessions in front of as many as 24,000 fans in the stadium. The Open runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9.
“We are looking forward to these young performers lighting up the stage and contributing to the overall excitement that makes this tournament so spectacular,” said Gordon Smith, Executive Director of the USTA.