New York City is synonymous with the bright lights, big stars and exciting nightlife featuring the best in food and drinks. There is perhaps no better example of this than Citi Taste of Tennis, which is celebrating its 20th year in the world’s most eventful city next week.
Taste of Tennis combines the best tennis players on the ATP and WTA Tours with some of the world’s top chefs for a thrilling night of celebrity and gourmet dining, and has been one of the unofficial starts of the US Open late in the New York summer.
The event was the brainchild of AYS World, a woman-owned event management and marketing company which was started by the mother-daughter duo of Judi and Penny Lerner in 1995.
“The Taste of Tennis originated in our hometown of Philadelphia in 1999. At that time there was a local tournament called the Advanta Championships. They reached out to us three weeks before the tournament and asked us to create an event that would appeal to the players, their sponsors and the public at large,” explained Penny Lerner, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We had to work quickly so my team and I huddled up and began brainstorming about concepts that would resonate across the board. We started by determining that one of the things that’s really cool about tennis is that it has so many international influences. So we then asked ourselves, what can we weave into the event that also has international roots?…Food!”
With the event concept complete, the team bounced around a few different names before arriving at Taste of Tennis.
“From there, we reached out to popular local chefs, added a DJ, incorporated a few last minute sponsors and boom: The Taste of Tennis was born,” added Lerner. “The event was so well received by the players, the tournament, attendees and the media in Philadelphia, we decided why stop here? Let’s bring this to the biggest stage in North America: New York City.
The rest, as they say, is history.”
And now two decades later, Taste of Tennis has become one of the most popular stops on the calendar, and has expanded to events in multiple cities in coordination with some of the biggest tennis tournaments in the United States.
“The event has grown quite a bit from those early days when we had just one event and a couple hundred attendees, many of whom were friends and family we invited to help us fill the room,” recalls Lerner. “We now host Citi Taste of Tennis events in Indian Wells, Miami, Washington, D.C. and New York City, and we entertain thousands of attendees throughout the year. From identifying emerging tennis players, chefs and entertainers, to researching the latest food trends, we are constantly innovating to ensure the Citi Taste of Tennis remains ahead of the curve.”
That innovation has allowed the event to grow significantly since its inception in 1999, which makes the 20th anniversary event at Cipriani 42nd Street on Thursday, August 22 a very exciting one.
“We have a number of things planned to commemorate our 20th anniversary in New York City. The Citi Taste of Tennis is always a ‘who’s who’ of tennis, culinary and lifestyle influencers. But this year it’s really going to be special,” Lerner said. “The event is shaping up to be an unprecedented reunion of iconic chefs, legendary tennis players and celebrities that have participated throughout the years and helped us build the Citi Taste of Tennis into the popular brand it is today. Some of these individuals haven’t attended the event in some time, so we can’t wait to show them what an extravaganza it has become!”
New York City is no stranger to hosting the biggest celebrities, and next week’s Citi Taste of Tennis will be no different as some of the world’s top names including Sloane Stephens, Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, the Bryan Brothers, Eugenie Bouchard, Elina Svitolina and more, collide with the finest in the culinary world such as Chef Richard Blais and Chef Masaharu Morimoto, for a celebration of sport and food. Citi Taste of Tennis will expand globally in 2020, with events in Melbourne, Australia, and London, England, but before then, it stops in New York City for the 20th straight year.
“Our events are seen as the perfect way to kickoff tournaments across the United States by tennis players, fans, foodies and the media are always filled to capacity,” said Lerner. “We are incredibly fortunate to have a partner like Citibank on board who recognizes the effectiveness of the events and sees the enormous potential that exists with bringing this one of a kind tennis and culinary experience to key markets worldwide.”
To learn more about Citi Taste of Tennis, or to book your tickets August 22, visit www.TasteOfTennis.com/NYC.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.