The celebratory gala began at 7 p.m. with couples, young and old, in their summer party attire, gliding across the grass tennis courts under the cool shade of a large white canopy.
Forest Hills Gardens residents danced through the evening to a live jazz band, dined and raved over the meals from the club’s new chef; and the bar awaited.
As conversation bubbled throughout the party, many attendees gushed about the much-anticipated WSTC Stadium being reopened for concerts.
“Well, as neighbors of the West Side, we totally, 100 percent support the plan to have rock concerts here,” said Rick Marsh, a party guest. “I remember seeing Simon and Garfunkel and The Doors on the same night in 1968 in that stadium! I would love to see Mumford and Sons coming this year and other bands. I think it would be great!”
The WSTC began as a simple idea of a tennis club in Central Park West, but when a group of passionate tennis players wanted a place of their, the club sprouted into a full-fledged tennis center that opened in Forest Hills in 1913.
Home to the U.S. Open for over six decades, the WSTC was lively with tennis events and music concerts from iconic performers like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, The Who, Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan.
The legacy ended when the U.S. Open moved to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in 1978 due to issues pertaining size and space.
“When the U.S Open and Championships Tournament left, we had to create a new identity,” said WSTC president Roland Meier. “We’ve been going through a lot of changes. We became family friendly, which was not the case before.”
The glories and struggles the WSTC went through are all part of what makes the 100th anniversary so monumental.
“Now with our stadium reopening, there will be more music events, tennis events and hopefully the Forest Hills WSTC will be back on the line,” Meier said.
The first concert they will host since the late 70’s is Mumford and Sons on August 28 at 6:15 p.m.
Overall, the 100-year anniversary of the West Side was a chance for people to reflect on not only the past and progress of the club, but also their plans for the future and to continue being a part of the present.
Meier, president and member for 23 years, spoke in excitement about the many plans for the future of the club and the current renovations.
“I’m hoping for retired players like Jimmy Connors, Chris Everett, Billie Jean King to come back, perhaps organize a senior circuit event,” he suggested. “I also envision having an outdoor ice hockey rink during the winter, although our butts will be frozen off.”
As he spoke to the guests, and was often spotted on the dance floor, he boasted of their changes, legacy, plans for the future and newly installed Wi-Fi access.
“I see the NFL coming to the West Side,” he predicted with a smile on his face. “As you can see, I‘m very excited!“
Meier isn’t the only one who is excited about these changes.
“This is a really great place,” said Bruce Eaton, a club member for the last four years. “If more people knew about this, and saw how great it is, then I’m sure we would have more members, which we need!”