A reader asked me recently to "write about different sports like gymnastics, lacrosse or tennis." It's U.S. Open week. That is when the best tennis players in the world come to New York and play for perhaps the biggest title in tennis. So it's a good time to write about tennis, and there's a lot to write about.

* The U.S. Open is being played on blue courts for the first time. I like the new color. It's easy on the eyes and makes the tennis balls, whipping around at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, easier to see.

* But I don't like the attempt by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) to give the top tennis players nicknames. It is so phony. Does anyone really call Lleyton Hewitt "The Rebel," or Kim Clijsters "Miss Congeniality?" Or Maria Sharapova "The 'It' Girl?" Come on, they're athletes, not TV stars.

* The U.S. Open is a world event. The 32 top-seeded men come from 16 countries. The top women are from 13 countries. The country with the most seeded players? Russia, with 10 women and three men.

* Rafael Nadal, the Spanish teenager who has won nine tournaments this year, is a star. He is super fast and just crushes the ball. Still, I'm not sold on Nadal's wardrobe. The sleeveless shirts and bandana are cool. But Capri pants instead of shorts? Weird.

* The women's final is on prime-time TV again this year. Tennis, figure skating and gymnastics are among the few events where the women get more attention than the men.

* The women's tournament should be a free-for-all this year. At least eight players have a real chance of winning it all. Clijsters has won six tournaments this year. So I'm picking "Miss Congeniality" to win her first major title.

Watch out for Sharapova. The 6-foot-2 Russian teen is still growing. Sharapova is athletic and determined. She will be tough for anyone to handle.

* Lots of folks are forgetting the Williams sisters. Sure Serena and Venus are not dominating women's tennis like they did a few years ago. But each has a major title this year -- Serena won the Australian Open and Venus won Wimbledon.

* This might be the last chance for Andre Agassi to win a major. But win or lose, you have to admire Agassi. He got out of shape several years ago and fell to 141st in the world rankings. But Agassi didn't quit. He worked hard and came back to win five of his eight major titles.

* Agassi also has become one of the good guys in sports. He started and helps fund the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for underprivileged kids in his home town of Las Vegas, Nevada.

* Even if you are not a big tennis fan, watch Roger Federer. The Swiss right-hander has been ranked No. 1 in the world for more than a year and a half. Watching Federer float around the court hitting silky, smooth forehands and backhands is like watching Peyton Manning throw a spiral or Pedro Martinez pitch or Mia Hamm dribble a soccer ball. He's just the best.

* At least the USTA got Federer's nickname right. He is dubbed "The Boss."

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is the author of sports novels for kids.

How about those blue courts at the U.S. Open -- do they whet your appetite for watching more tennis?Rafael Nadal is

an exciting player with an interesting sense of fashion.