Fan Guide: Cincinnati Western & Southern Financial Group tournaments
by Megan Fernandez
Dates: Aug. 13-21, 2011
Why go? Because Cincinnati is a cut-rate Grand Slam doppelgangerâ€“an elite field combined with the top menâ€™s and womenâ€™s players in the world, in a venue thatâ€™s a lot less chaotic and overwhelming than the majors.
Tickets run $30 to $75 for main-draw sessions. A ticket includes a reserved seat in Center Court and general admission to all other courts. (Usually, there are matches on the other courts through the Friday day session.) Single-session tickets are sold only for the Center Courtâ€™s upper-level section (Terrace). For lower-level seats (Box and Loge), the best deals are on Craigâ€™s List.
Center Courtâ€™s Terrace seats are decent. You can see the court well from the top row, but you may not be able to see playersâ€™ facial reactions. For a view from the top row of Terrace, click here: http://assets.usta.com/assets/663/15/TERRACE_3.pdf
Some notes on specific sections:
- Boxes 501-504 and 719-724: not courtside, and covered and shaded all day.
- Boxes 122-126 and Loge sections 224-227: uncovered yet shaded most of the day.
- Boxes 122-125: behind playersâ€™ and umpireâ€™ chair, which obstruct the view of part of the court.
- Loge 225-226: behind playersâ€™ and umpireâ€™ chair, which obstruct the view of part of the court.
- Loge 208-217 and 221-232: the closest Loge seats to the court.
- Loge 221-223: actually on the Terrace level.
- Loge 324-327: as high as Terrace seats, but covered and shaded all day.
- Terrace 312-314: covered by a canopy and shaded all day.
Avoid the traffic jam on I-71 coming from the south (the exit is shared by the tennis center and Kings Island amusement park) by taking an alternate route: I-75 to Tylersville Road (exit 22) to Fairway Drive. There will be signs to follow to Lot B and Lot C.
For the best parking, buy a Lot A pass online from a season-ticket holder. Lot A has a dedicated entrance.
Cincy is often 90+ degrees, and it feels hotter in the stands. Wear plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water (you can bring in one closed bottle).
To cool off, check out the on-site museum. Youâ€™ll be surprised at how much history the tournament has: At more than 110 years in Cincy, itâ€™s the oldest tournament in the U.S. held in the original location.
Score some shade in a covered box seat on the Grandstand court when there arenâ€™t matches in session. Skip the table in the sun at the food court and eat there instead. This is also a great place to wait out a rain delayâ€”everyone else will be packed inside the retail tent!
Kids can take watch an exhibition with pros, get player autographs, and more on Kids Day (Aug. 13, 2011). Tickets are half-price and include a seat for the matches.
When you arrive, first check the practice schedule posted on an electronic board near the player entrance, west of Center Court, and at the information desk. For the top players, stands fill up at least 30 minutes in advance of the practice time. On the day of the final, the players usually warm up separately on Center Court, starting a few hours before match time.
The best place for an autograph is in the breezeway connecting the main building to the playerâ€™s entrance.
Players often sign autographs and take photos after a practice session, at the fence by their chair.
Keep your eyes open for players walking near the south and west sides of Center Court. Does that tall guy in tennis gear walking alone look familiar? Could be Victor Hanescu or Mark Knowle. Itâ€™s okay to stop someone in a courteous manner. Often, players who arenâ€™t in the spotlight like to be recognized and talk to fans.
To be on TV, get to the ESPN broadcast booth right after a semifinal or final. Itâ€™s set up outside of Center Court, on the southeast side. The commentators broadcast from there before and after each televised match, and fans are allowed to stand behind them. After a match, the winner is usually interviewed at the desk immediately. When the desk is not being used, fans are usually permitted to sit there for a photo op.
During matches on Center Court, coaches and entourages often sit in Box 130, in the northwest corner. They have also been spotted in Box 111, on the east side.
Spring for a room at the Marriott Northeast in Mason, the official tournament hotel. Stay there (or just go to dinner there), and youâ€™re likely to see players and tennis insiders. For a good pool and restaurant, try this writerâ€™s favorite hotel: Doubletree Guest Suites in Blue Ash, 7 miles from the site.
Gates open two hours before the dayâ€™s first match. Matches start earlier on qualifying days, which means the grounds opens earlier. If you arrive early, you might have a semi-private viewing session of a top playerâ€™s practice.
Eat the local cuisine in the food court: Graeterâ€™s ice cream, Skyline Chili, and LaRosa Pizza from the food court.
Favorite souvenir: Stick-It-Wear?! t-shirts, featuring a stick-figure profile of top players past and present. They arenâ€™t IDâ€™d, but tennis fans would know Nadalâ€™s high-knee fist pump anywhere. Look for them in the retail tent.
If youâ€™re a roller-coaster junkie, make time to visit Kings Island amusement park, just across the interstate from the tennis center. (And keep an eye out for players.) Itâ€™s home to the longest, tallest and fastest wooden coasters in the world.
On Friday and Saturday nights, look east around 10 p.m. to see Kings Islandâ€™s fireworks show.
Megan Fernandez will be covering the Cincinnati tournament for Tennis Panorama News.Â In addition to her online articles, she’ll be taking over our twitter account @GVTennisNews providing updates, commentary and photos during both tournaments.