Kourtin’ Karen’s US Open Tips
I’ve attended the US Open tennis tournament many times over the years so I’ve put together some hints for those who have never attended and seasoned US Open attendee veterans.
Don’t forget to drink water! It can get very hot during the US Open so you’ll need to keep hydrated! You are allowed to bring in H2O, otherwise you’ll be paying a small mortgage for a bottle of water on the grounds of the BJKUSTANTC= Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center
Don’t forget to wear sunblock/sunscreen to the US Open! Again, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear sunblock! Don’t take any chances.
One of the best kept secrets, the day before the US Open begins (August 24) is a great day to wander the US Open grounds. Unofficially it’s called “practice” day. You get to see all of the players. Best of all-free admission to BJKUSTANTC!
Volunteer at the US Open. Applications to be a volunteer open up early in the year and closes in early July. Check out USTA.com under volunteering. The USTA is very selective and you must be a USTA member and have some experience in order to qualify.
Wear very comfortable shoes! Unless you are going to park your butt in one stadium for the entire day, wear very comfortable shoes. Wear your sneakers, if you are going to be hopping around from court to court as I do! Half of the fun of the US Open is that you are able to watch matches on many courts. You are not limited to sit at one court during the day like some other tournaments.
Take the #7 subway to the US Open! It’s inexpensive and you may meet lower ranked players and future stars (juniors) while riding. Besides, it’s better than driving in all that traffic!
Dress in layers. The September weather can be crazy if you are going from day into night. You start off the day in shorts and then during the night the temperature can drop drastically! Bring a sweatshirt/sweater just in case! And a waterproof jacket in case it rains!
Want to see some tennis before the US Open? The US Open Qualifying tournament starts the week before the US Open and is free! You may catch a few rising stars, and see some players on the grounds practicing.
Attend at least one day session during the first week of the US Open. The first week of the US Open provides so many matches to choose from on all courts! It’s great to be able to “court” hop!
Check out the newest show court – Court 17. Nice and small venue, excellent sight lines.
Get to the open early as there are long security lines to enter the BJKUSTANTC! Depending on the day, you may be waiting as long as a half an hour to get in. FYI-the gates open at 10 AM each day.
You are allowed to bring one bag with you onto the grounds. Quoting USOpen.org: “All bags are subject to search, must be a single compartment and cannot be larger than 12″Wx12″Hx16″L.”
For those of you don’t like to carry bags-DON’T bring a bag if you can help it. It’ll just make you have to wait in the (at times MUCH) longer lines with these searches. May I suggest wearing “cargo” shorts or pants as they contain many pockets in which on may carry items.
Save money by printing out the schedule of play and the draws before you head out to the open. Draw sheets/schedules cost at least 5 dollars each day if you buy them at the BJKUSTANTC.
See matches with players that you are not very likely to see play singles at another US Open.
Try to see a match in The Grandstand. In my opinion, the best seats in the house and after this year(2014), it will be torn down.
There is a big food court at the BJKUSTANTC, if you want to mortgage your house to buy something. You are allowed to bring in some food and some water into the BJK USTANTC so save a little money! ( But if you are getting something at the Food Court, may I suggest one of those delicious crepes, not the sweet ones, but the “meal-type” crepes. I love the spinach, chicken and cheese one- called “Le Poulet.”)
If you are taking the subway be sure to have enough money on your metrocard to return home. You do not want to have to stand in line waiting to buy a metrocard after the matches. May I suggest a ten trip or a weekly Metrocard for those of you attending the Open for several days.
If you absolutely do not want to take the subway, you can take the Long Island railroad between New York’s Penn Station and the Willets Point stops on the Port Washington branch. Unlike the subway, the railroad does not come every 5 minutes, usually every half an hour. It takes about 20 minutes each way. For more information on the Long Island Railroad and the Subway: http://www.mta.info/
You can have your picture taken with the Men’s US Open trophy for free on the grounds of BJKUSTANTC! Usually the sponsor of the men’s tournament sets up a booth along with the vehicle that is being promoted. They’ll e-mail you the picture and you can send it to all your friends! I freely admit that I have done this every year since this promotion began.
The first Friday of the US Open is USTA Membership Appreciation Day! If you are attending that day- September 3rd, be sure to bring your membership card/number to the Indoor Tennis facility! That day every USTA member who stops by will receive a little gift and free snacks in the tent all day long! You will even be entered into raffles for wonderful prizes! For those how are not yet members it’s a good day to become one.
For a great photographic moment have your picture taken in front of the Unisphere or with the Unisphere in the distance. There are a couple of great spots in Ashe to do this. Also in front of the fountain next to Ashe or outside the South Gate entrance to the BJKUSTANTC.
When entering the BJKUSTANTC, use the South Gate entrance! Not too many people use it, so the lines are shorter. It’s the entrance closest to the Unisphere.
For those of you who have never attended a live professional tennis match, if possible, try to sit on the ends (facing the backcourt baseline) of a court as opposed to the sides of a court. Sitting on the sides, you may be be forced, depending on how high up you are sitting, to move your head back and forth to follow the ball. Your neck will begin to hurt! Trust me on this. It’s a personal preference, I know many people who will only sit on the sides.
Check out the Tennis Hall of Fame Exhibit. Each year there is a unique display.
Attend a Day session during the first week of play. Tons of matches everywhere. A court hopper’s delight. Matches lasting into the early evening and sometimes beyond. For me its the best value as a tennis fan! ©Kourtin’ Karen loves attending the “day into night” session!
Explore the “Walls of Champions” close to the South Gate as you enter the BJKNTC. See all of the names of past US Open Champs as well as the “honor” roll. Last year the Davis Cup was on display.
If you are attending the second week of the open watch the Wheelchair competitions! You will appreciate the efforts that these athletes put out!
Check out the Junior competition during the US Open. See the future tour number ones!
The legends competition usually begins on Labor Day, see old favorites play, take pictures and get autographs!
Check out the practice courts! See your favorite players in action! During the US Open Qualies many players are on the main courts and outer courts practicing. The day before the US Open begins is “practice day” as all of the courts are used. It’s the best day to take pictures and get autographs.
See the American Express US Open Fan experience, replacing the Smashzone.
Dont forget to bring your sunglasses! They will cut down the glare when you are watching matches with the sun shining directly on you.
Bring a small towel! For wiping off sweat or wiping off your seat.
Bring a small umbrella, ella, ella. Just in case. Light colored umbrella if possible. If it doesn’t rain you can use it to shield the sun!
Before and during the US Open check out the tennis events taking place in New York City such as the Taste of Tennis on August 21th!
For you celebrity watchers, attend the Night Sessions at the US Open! The stars come out at night!
Those of you that keep Kosher or have other special dietary concerns, there are all types of food stands to meet your needs!
Take a sports side trip during the US Open? If you are a big baseball fan like I am, may I suggest visiting Yankee Stadium or CitiField and taking the tour.
Again. Water. Drink. Water. Keep hydrated! It’s gets hot at Flushing Meadows! There are water fountains around the grounds.
You can check items outside the BJKUSTANTC. If you are coming straight from the airport to the US Open or you brought a back pack by mistake, you can check your bags in one of the bag checks before entering the grounds as you can’t carry in large items. It’s a few dollars per item, cheaper than the water.
Another touristy side trip. See the Statue of Liberty by taking the Staten Island Ferry. Great views of lower Manhattan and Ms. Liberty to boot and a nice little ride to see another part of NYC. Did you know that a lady from Staten Island is credited with bringing tennis to the US?
Don’t forget to bring your camera! Picture alert. Have your picture taken in front of Ashe Stadium in front of the fountains!
If you have a US Open Club pass with your night session ticket, you are allowed to enter the BJKUSTANTC grounds as early as 5 PM. (We all know that we will court-hop at the end of the Day session before the night session begins.)
If you are not a member already, join the USTA while you are at the open! You’ll get a free subscription to Tennis Magazine and USTA Magazine. There are so many other perks including getting first dibs on US Open tickets. See www.USTA.com for more information.
Make a donation to USTA Serves. They usually have a booth on the NTC grounds near the membership booth. This foundation not only supports local tennis but educational programs as well.
Visit the various exhibitor booths on the US Open grounds. Many free giveaways! In 2007 one of the most popular booths was a drug maker that handed out free bags that were the size of Olivier Rochus!
“We encourage you to arrive early to avoid delays and help to speed the entry of all spectators.
All fans will go through a screening process before passing through the USTA National Tennis Center entry gates.
There will be a limit of one bag per person admitted onto the grounds.
All bags are subject to search, must be a single compartment and cannot be larger than 12″Wx12″Hx16″L.
There will be no bag storage on the grounds. For a nominal charge, there is a bag storage facility outside the grounds.
Speed lines for those fans without bags will be available at all gates.
The following items are prohibited and MAY NOT be brought onto the premises of the NTC:
-sealed packages of any kind;
-ALL knapsacks/ALL backpacks ;
-hard coolers or like containers;
-glass bottles or cans;
-aerosol cans or noise making devices;
-commercial video cameras or recording devices;
-computers or laptops;
-food (except in limited quantities, or for medical, dietary or infant purposes);
-weapons (regardless of permit);
-pets (unless a service animal);
-flags, banners or signs;
-laser pointing devices;
-bicycles; scooters of any type; in-line skates; roller skates; skateboards;and any other items deemed unlawful or dangerous by the USTA and/or US Open personnel, in its sole discretion.”
For USOpen.org’s list on “Visiting the Open” click here.
US Open Qualifying Tournament – week of August 18, 2011.
Attend Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day – August 23, from 9 a.m. Stadium show is noon to 2 p.m.
Open Practice Day- August 24 – Come see all of the players getting ready for the opening day of the tournament. It’s free and the gates open at 11 AM. A great day to get autographs and take photographs!
Picture Alert! If you are sitting in the Upper Promenade, try taking some pictures of the Manhattan sky line!
Safety alert- First Aid stations– just in case you need to know where they are:
-Arthur Ashe court Level room 1424, club level near gate 7, Promenade level near gate 30
-West of Court 8
-Grandstand court- next to the ticket office
If you are sitting in the Upper Promenade of Ashe, try getting a seat in Sections 311-315 as you can peek over the top and see what’s going on at Armstrong Stadium since the Ashe stadium scoreboard never seems to show the scores from Armstrong.
Bring wash/dry wet napkins and paper towel/tissue, so you won’t need to get up from your seat if you get dirty, sweaty.
Bring a ticket lanyard to the open so that you can wear your ticket around your neck. If you don’t have one, check out some of the vendor booths inside the BJKNTC as a few of them give away the tickets lanyards with their logos for free.
If you have an American Express card, please pick up a free US Open Radio! Hear match updates throughout the day while you are there! If you don’t have an Amex, ask someone who does to get a radio for you!
In addition to sunscreen, bring one of those sun shirts (SPF 30 or higher). Fishing and outdoor stores sell them. You can wear over your t-shirt or polo, or drape over your legs if the sun is beating down. Also adds warmth in the evening. Convertible pants (that zip off into shorts) are also an option.
Take home a piece of the open! You can purchase a ball used during the open as a souvenir! The money goes to one of the USTA foundations!
Support USTA programs in your neighborhood whether with money or with volunteering! They are all supported by the US Open!
Read the US Open Fan Guide! It has everything you need to know about attending the US Open!
Checklist- tickets, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, lanyard, towel, schedule of play and water. Enough said!
I encourage you to leave your cars at home and so does the USTA, as parking space is very limited. Use Mass Transit!
Enjoy your US Open!
(Karen Pestaina aka “Kourtin’ Karen” is the woman behind Tennis Panorama News. She freelances for various media outlets in and out of tennis and has worked for many a broadcast news entity. She witnessed her first live tennis match as a young child at Forest Hills when Guillermo Vilas upset Jimmy Connors to win the 1977 US Open. This branded her as a Vilas fan for life.)
Updated June 14, 2013.