Melbourne Park, 12 January 2013 | James Hunter-Smith

Melbourne Park was packed to the rafters Saturday as it hosted the biggest and best Kids Tennis Day yet.

Thousands of giddy youngsters and their families took part in the day enjoying the vast number of activities both on and off the court.

MLC Tennis Hot Shots (MLCTHS) leader Craig Morris said he couldn’t be happier with the event and hopes it encouraged more kids to get involved with the Hot Shots program.

“We are thrilled with the response from the public,” Morris said.

“[It] went well beyond our expectations, and to see families coming here to enjoy tennis and to get engaged in the sport was really exciting. It just shows there’s a real demand for tennis and we’ve got to capitalise now and get kids into MLCTHS.”

Gates opened at 8.30am to the relief of a large queue of anxious kids who had already been lining up for up to an hour. By 9am the event was officially launched by MLCTHS Ambassador Alicia Molik and the day’s action officially kicked into overdrive.

Garden Square’s stage was clearly the place to be early with live performances from Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants getting the kids up and dancing. Nickelodeon duo Luke & Wyatt kept the crowd entertained with their fun-filled antics –  and jokes that most dads would enjoy — encouraging the public to spread around the precinct and soak in as much action as possible.

The outside courts – fully decked with mini MLCTHS courts and modified equipment — were brimming with youngsters having a hit under the watchful eye of coaches, guiding them through a number of fun games working on their hand-eye coordination and footwork.

Court 6 hosted a ‘Celebrity Slam’ featuring former world No.1 and three-time Australian Open champion Martina Hingis alongside Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith and former AFL star Ben Graham.

But when the clock struck 12pm the main attraction of KTD2013 kicked into action – the ‘Rod Laver Arena Spectacular’.

Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic took part in the memorable exhibition in a stunning line-up that gave young kids the chance to get up close to their heroes.

The players were grouped into two teams of three – team Dora (the Explorer) and team SpongeBob – as the stars showcased an array of trick shots, jokes and their own running commentary, thrilling the crowd.

Djokovic – well known for his showman qualities – had the crowd roaring with laughter at his antics. The fans were entertained with his high-pitched and excessive grunting, his head-butting of the ball over the net and his brief rendition of the Gangnam Style dance.

On the other side of the court, crowd favourite Federer was more than happy to put his racquet down and take on ballboy responsibilities while Tsonga showed off his ability to fire shots from deep in the court – through his legs.

But the entertainment didn’t stop there. Following the player exhibition, international pop star Guy Sebastian took over the court via a surprise entrance after disguising himself as a chair umpire. Sebastian performed three songs with backup singer and former performer on The Voice, Carmen Smith, and together they concluded the Spectacular in fitting fashion.

“We saw a lot of smiling faces on kids going home and heard them say what a great day it was, so we now hope people think of tennis as a great experience,” Morris said.

“Hopefully they now go and tell their friends to pick up a racquet and start to play.”