When it comes to tennis, Hunter Hayes confesses he’s much more of a spectator than an active participant in the game. But for the young multi-instrumentalist, performing at the 19th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, which kicks off the 2014 US Open this Saturday, August 23rd, is a perfect match.
Named for the late tennis legend and humanitarian, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is the largest single-day, grassroots tennis and entertainment event in the world and helps to promote youth tennis, inspiring children of all ages to develop healthy habits through fun activities.
“I love anything that encourages young people to find what they’re passionate about and gives them a chance to do that,” Hayes tells Rolling Stone Country. “I know for me, finding music really early on really changed my life. I don’t know what my life would’ve been like if I had not found music as early as I did. We were just stoked to get the invitation to this. It’s a big event and there’s been a history of phenomenal performers, so to be included in the invitation was a pretty big deal.”
Also performing at the event are young musicians MKTO, McClain, Madison Beer and the Vamps, with exhibition matches and skills competitions featuring tennis champs Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
A launching pad for future superstars, past performers at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day include Ariana Grande, Austin Mahone, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Jonas Brothers, Jessica Simpson, Demi Lovato, Cody Simpson, Britney Spears, Ne-Yo, Hanson and Backstreet Boys.
While Hayes limits his athletics to the concert stage, the 22-year-old star does admit to being somewhat driven by competition, mainly with himself.
“Luckily, music is not competitive so I don’t have to worry about good sportsmanlike conduct or whatever,” he says with a laugh. “But at the same time, when you see somebody up their game, it inspires you to dig a little deeper, to work a little harder. I think that’s something that you always need in life, 24/7.”
On Friday morning, August 22nd, Hayes will take the stage for the Toyota Concert Series on NBC’s Today.