This year I went to New York’s most attended sporting event – the tennis US Open Championships. Legendary tournaments, signature cocktails, a celebrity-studded crowd, what more could a girl want?
Tennis US Open
The tennis US Open is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and is constantly ranked as one of the top things to do in Queens. It’s basically the tennis capital of the world for two weeks every summer, where the internationally best tennis players compete. The up-and-coming athletes duke it out with those ranked highest in the world. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s a must-do NYC event.
I did what most New Yorkers do, and that’s go to the US Open after work. Sara was touring Italy at the time, so I jumped on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) solo and headed to Mets-Willets Station for a fun-filled summer night.
How To Get To The US Open
Here’s a fun tip – get there on time because it’s super easy to get to. I came late (thanks last minute deliverable at work) and missed walking the grounds with my friends. If you’re more prompt than I, from Manhattan, take the 7 train subway line. As I said I took the LIRR from Manhattan (both the subway and LIRR debark at Mets-Willets station). If you’re coming from Long Island or elsewhere, you can drive or take the LIRR as well.
It’s cool when you arrive at the station because you have the option of going to the right or the left. To the left you’ll see the large Citified stadium with it’s flashing orange and blue lights. To the right you’ll see the demure, domed silhouette of Arthur Ashe in the distance. For non-New Yorks this means you have the option of going to a Mets game or the tennis US Open. Many times both have games occurring on the same night. Just imagine the crowds when this happens!
Everything You Need To Know About The Tennis US Open
The US Open starts the last Monday in August and lasts for about two weeks. The matches primarily include men’s and women’s doubles, men’s and women’s singles, mixed doubles, and then tournaments for wheelchairs, senior, and junior players. The players play on a tennis hardcourt (DecoTurf), which means it’s a fast surface (less friction for the ball with a lower bounce).
The US Open is the modern version of one of the oldest tennis tournaments in the world – the U.S. National Championship. That was from back when it originated in 1881 and was for men’s singles only. The first tennis tournament was held in my beloved Newport, Rhode Island. Its modern incarnation, the US Open, is the fourth and final tournament of the annual Grand Slam. The other three are the Australian Open (think the red clay courts), the French Open, and Wimbledon.
Even though I arrived later than my friends, I still walked the grounds a bit to check out some of the yummy food vendor stands and smaller stadium matches. The smaller stadium matches are played in the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand Stadium, and 16 side courts.
Arthur Ashe Stadium is the main venue where you’d find top players like Rafael Nadal or the Williams sisters playing. But there are plenty of matches active concurrently in these smaller ones. You can sit anywhere at these and they’re a lot easier to pop in and out of. This makes it a lot easier to manage the 70,000+ people that attend the US Open each year.
There’s a lot of sponsors of the event that set up cool things for you to check out as you walk around. One point of amazement for everyone seemed to be this tube of tennis balls. People were crowded around it trying to guess how many were in there. I’m assuming there was some type of prize involved for the right guess, otherwise…
US Open Signature Cocktails & Food
Every year the US Open has signature drinks and food. This year’s cocktail was the Honey Deuce. It was sweet and light, but be careful – you have one and it leads to five!
To give you an idea about the signature foods, there’s a culinary team of 250 people preparing food in the area they call the Food Village. A local had said of the food options, “The amount of specialty food by amazing brands and amazing talent and the trouble, and effort that goes into making this an amazing fan and guest experience, is beyond anything I have ever seen.”
I also like this quote from the USTA’s Chief Operating Officer, Danny Zausner, “Everyone is well aware of the fact that the tennis center has transformed itself over the past couple years, but it isn’t just about the structures on the site. It’s as much about the food experience as it is about the tennis on the courts. We’re introducing 17 new food locations on site this year, and we’ve gone out into the marketplace to find the most talented chefs to help us execute the best sports and entertainment food event anywhere in the world.” Sounds great to me!
I’m sure you’d like to see pictures of some of these yummy food options, but as I said I was late and it was either food or missing the Rafael Nadal match. So instead, here’s a picture of the Arthur Ashe stadium in-between matches. They played EDM music as the colored lights bopped around the crowd.
Arthur Ashe Stadium
One of my favorite parts of the US Open is that you can do a lot of celebrity spotting. In between games, the cameramen always zoom in on the celebrities in attendance at Arthur Ashe stadium. When I went I saw people like Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Donald Trump, Aziz Ansari, and a slew more.
Since my friends bought tickets in bulk and no one wanted to pay a ton of money for them, we sat nosebleed – which was awesome in my opinion! Otherwise, what excuse can we give for having used these binoculars?
Plus, there really is no bad view no matter where you sit. You can see everything you need to and there are food vendors on every stadium level.
But I have to mention one thing I was fascinated with. Anyone know what’s up with the ballpeople? Check out the human that is crouched in that crawling position in the below picture. He’s a ballperson. The ballpeople stay like that the entire match until a ball goes out and they have to sprint after it. Apparently there are tryouts for ballpeople. But seriously? Must they stay in that position?
Let’s look at a closeup of Rafael Nadal playing in the US Open from a few years ago!
My friend was looking forward to seeing Rafael Nadal play the entire night. She went full fan-girl when he finally walked out for his match, the final match of the night.
Dress Code at the tennis US Open
There isn’t necessarily a dress code for the US Open. The players have to abide by one, but attendees can wear what they want. This is a somewhat classy event so people do dress nicely. Which reminds me, here is a picture of me from a couple of years ago at the US Open. I’m wearing what I have no converted into a pajama top. Like I said, keep it classy…
Last thing I want to mention is that I liked whenever a player is about to start a new set; the entire crowd falls silent. I find that to be impressive. Imagine a football arena falling silent before the first hike?
How To See The U.S. Open For Free
On Open Community Day admission to the National Tennis Center is free from noon to 6 p.m! Take advantage of this since the US Open does tend to be a bit costly. Even so, you can easily buy tickets in advance for the nosebleed sections. You’re high up, but like I said, there isn’t a bad view at Arthur Ashe. Plus if you go with a group of friends it doesn’t matter where you sit, it’ll still be fun. Here’s also some good tips on how to save money at the US Open.
Bad weather is not an issue at the Open since they built this $550 million dollar roof over Arthur Ashe stadium. It actually did start to rain during the game I went to, so you’ll notice in the picture that the roof is slowly closing. The players had to stop and wait on the sidelines until it did.
So what do you think – will you be adding the tennis US Open to your bucket list?