By P.J. Simmons
Updated August 2017 (I will continue to update as I learn)
The 2017 US Open tennis tournament (August 28- September 10) is fast approaching, and it’s been awesome to hear from fellow fanatics all over the world in recent months who are planning their trips! As a serious tennis player and fan myself, I can relate to the excitement. There’s nothing more educational and inspiring than seeing world-class live tennis and I feel so lucky that the US Open is in my backyard. The 2017 US Open will mark my ninth consecutive year at Flushing Meadows, and I’ve learned a ton through trial and error about how to maximize the opportunity, find the best tickets and seats, and generally get the biggest bang for the buck. Here are my top 10 recommendations for serious tennis fans like me. For advice on where and how to buy tickets (including strategy for seeing Roger Federer play and how to navigate options on on Ticketmaster, Ticket Exchange, and other ticket sites), see green BOX #2 and BOX #3 (FAQs) below.
Tip #1. Do whatever you can to see world-class players and great matches up really close— which if you’re on a budget may mean bypassing Arthur Ashe stadium in favor of the sixteen other courts where matches are played.
For my first US Open, I spent about $250 per ticket for a decent seat in the famous Arthur Ashe stadium (1/2 way up in the Loge section) so I’d be guaranteed to see at least one Top 10 player live. While it was certainly thrilling to experience the electricity of an evening at Ashe stadium, I still felt distant from the action (it’s a mammoth 23,700-seat venue) and spent much of the time watching the match on the huge video screen. Moreover, because the tournament prioritizes putting the biggest stars on Ashe over the best match-ups, the matches I saw weren’t terribly exciting.
Since then, I’ve become addicted to the unparalleled thrill of seeing many world-class competitors from a few feet away in epic duels on several of the smaller non-Ashe courts (Louis Armstrong Stadium, the NEW GRANDSTAND Stadium (behind courts 4-6), the very cool Court #17, and other courts #4-#16). Once you have this experience you’ll be addicted too. While it’s rare that you’ll see the Top 10 players on those courts, you WILL see other awe-inspiring players in very competitive matches. And if you play it right, you may just see one of the biggest stars up close: In 2011 I saw David Ferrer from the first row at Grandstand and Novak Djokovic from the second row at Armstrong (yes, I took the photo above of Djokovic and wasn’t using a zoom lens!).
(Adapted from photo in “US Open Transformation Update”)
- In 2017, the old Louis Armstrong Stadium pictured above will be replaced by a TEMPORARY ARMSTRONG (#2 stadium after Ashe) with 8,000+ seats located by the East Gate entrance. The new, permanent Armstrong will be under construction until 2018: it will be less intimate (14,000 seats), but will feature a retractable roof (!) and much more natural shade. March 2017 construction update here.
- Ashe Stadium now has an amazing retractable roof, so Ashe ticket holders never have to worry about getting rained out–and the stadium has much more shade even when the roof is open.
- The NEW GRANDSTAND stadium debuted in 2016 and is awesome. It seats about 8,000 (located behind courts 4-6). Reserved seats are available for purchase for the first 8 days of the tournament.
- 10 Field Courts were renovated in 2016, with Court 12 getting a major upgrade to hold almost 1400 people (previously 200). Many more food and drink stalls were added near Courts 4-7, including a new oyster bar behind Court 7 – very cool See “US Open Transformation Update” for overview.
Tip #2. If you’re on a tight budget, try to attend during the tournament’s first week (Monday August 28- Friday September 1) and purchase relatively inexpensive Ashe day session tickets. An Ashe day session ticket will get you access to all the courts including Ashe during the day, then enable you to stay on the grounds to watch matches on all courts except Ashe in the evening (Ashe day/night sessions are sold separately). You’ll get hours and hours of tennis watching for your money, as many matches on the outer courts will go well into the evening. And if you can take a day off from work and go during these first 5 days, you won’t have to battle hordes of fans for access to the non-Ashe venues– whereas things get very crowded Labor Day weekend. For Labor Day weekend (September 2-4), consider buying a reserved seat in Armstrong (see #4 below) and the new Grandstand: lines for Armstrong and Grandstand will be outrageous that holiday weekend, and even if you get in you risk not being able to leave for food/bathroom and re-enter.
(1) GROUNDS ADMISSION = allows entry when gates open (usually 9:30am, later on finals weekend – always at least one hour before day session begins) and gives access all day and all night on a first-come/first-served basis to matches in all field courts and practice courts, plus access to general seating in Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums BUT NOT TO ASHE STADIUM (which is the biggest and where thy put on the biggest “stars” to play). Sold for first 8 days of tournament (through Monday Sep 4).
(2) ARMSTRONG Stadium Reserved = Same as “Grounds Admission” (see #1 above) PLUS an assigned seat and access to “fast” line to get into Armstrong (the 2d biggest stadium after Ashe). There are no separate day/night sessions for Armstrong: your ticket is valid the entire day and night in that stadium. You can leave and reenter Armstrong as many times as you like. Sold for the first 9 days of the tournament (through Tuesday Sep 5). See Temporary Louis Armstrong Stadium Seating Chart (2017 only) to see which seats are “general seating” versus “reserved.” (Note: the new chart indicates portions of reserved sections 7, 9, 108 and 109 that are “obstructed view” – so proceed with caution)
(3) GRANDSTAND Stadium Reserved = Same as Grounds Admission PLUS an assigned seat in the Grandstand Stadium. Sold for the first 8 days of the tournament (through Monday Sep 4). New Grandstand Stadium Seating Chart; Grandstand Interactive Seating Map
(4) ASHE DAY Session = Same as Grounds Admission PLUS also includes a reserved seat in Ashe stadium for DAY session only (after you’re kicked out of Ashe around 6 you can still stay on grounds as late as you want). You can leave and reenter Ashe as many times as you like. Day session ticket holders must enter the grounds before 6:00 p.m. Seating charts:
- Arthur Ashe Stadium Seating Chart “(view from above)
- Official Ashe Stadium Seating Chart
- My Ashe Stadium annotated map.
- “Ashe Interactive Seat Viewer” to give you a sense of what view is like from specific seats – which from my experience tends to make seats look like they’re closer than they actually feel when you’re there, but helpful nonetheless.
(5) ASHE NIGHT Session Reserved = Only allows entry to grounds at around 6pm… once you’re in, same as Grounds plus a reserved seat for Ashe evening sessions beginning at 7pm.
** I took the photo above at the 2016 US Open from a corner courtside seat in Ashe watching the Nadal-Pouille round of 16 match on Labor Day.
Before you buy tickets, I strongly recommend reviewing last year’s 2016 schedule of play to get a sense of what kind of matches you’re likely to see on particular dates on which courts. (FYI here are links to 2015 and 2014 schedules, thought 2016 probably the most reliable indicator for what to expect in 2017).
- Aug 22-25: Qualifying Tournament play (free; check schedule here Aug 21)
- Aug 25 (Friday): Look for Draw/Schedule to be announced
- Aug 26 (Saturday): US Open Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day
- August 27 (Sunday): Free access to grounds, unofficial “Practice Day”
- Aug 28-29 (Mon/Tues): Men’s and Women’s 1st Round
- Aug 30-Aug 31 (Wed/Thurs): M&W 2d Round, Doubles 1st Round
- Sep 1-2 (Fri/Sat): M&W 3d Round, Doubles 1st-2d Round (+ Juniors)
- Sep 3-4 (Sun/Mon): M&W “Round of 16”, Doubles 3d Round (+ Juniors). Grandstand will probably only feature Doubles matches on Monday Sep 4.
- Sep 5 (Tues): M&W Quarterfinals (Ashe), Doubles Quarterfinals (Armstrong and probably New Grandstand) + Women’s Doubles Semifinals (+Juniors) Important: Final day for reserved Armstrong seats, but note that Singles matches will almost certainly be scheduled on Ashe, with Doubles on Armstrong and New Grandstand.
- Sep 6 (Wed) M&W Quarterfinals (Ashe) + Doubles Quarterfinals, Women’s Doubles Semifinals and Juniors (outer courts– no reserved seats, accessible with General Admission or Ashe ticket.
- Sep 7 (Thurs): Women’s Semifinals (Ashe Evening only), Doubles Semifinal (Day, Grandstand, I believe admission will be free again this year) (+Juniors)
- Sep 8 (Friday): Mixed Doubles Final 12pm and Men’s Semifinals 3pm (Ashe Day session, 1 ticket gives access to all matches). Juniors on outer courts.
- Sep 9 (Saturday): Men’s Doubles Final 12pm / Women’s Final 4pm (Ashe Day session, 1 ticket gives access to all matches). Juniors on outer courts.
- Sep 10 (Sunday): Women’s Doubles Final 12pm / Men’s Final 4pm (Ashe Day session, 1 ticket gives access to all matches). Juniors Boys and Girls Finals) on outer courts.
Tip #3. Do NOT heed the conventional wisdom to buy a “Grounds Admission” pass to save money until you’ve explored whether reserved day session seats in Ashe (or Armstrong or Grandstand) are also available for around the same price! Grounds pass seats (cheaper tickets sold on the tourney’s first 8 days that give access to all the courts except Ashe) are a great deal, but sometimes prices for a reserved Ashe Promenade section Day Session or Armstrong or Grandstand ticket can be almost identical– making them far better deals. Ashe, Armstrong and Grandstand day session tickets come with the same privileges of a regular “Grounds” pass, but offer the added bonus of having your own seat to retreat to. And even if it means getting a cheap seat in Ashe up in the nosebleed section, you may be able to sneak up to a better empty seat during the first week when many seats are empty. Finally, now that Ashe has a roof, even a lousy Ashe seat provides a measure of insurance in case of rain.
Tip #4. If you can splurge, I strongly recommend getting a reserved courtside seat Labor Day weekend in the temporary Louis Armstrong (“#2 court”) Sep 2-4 or in Grandstand on September 2 or 3. (If watching Doubles is a priority, consider getting a reserved courtside seat in Grandstand for Labor Day September 4). During this window, you’re guaranteed to see thrilling matches up close that you’ll never forget on these two courts. The first time I did this in 2010 I saw a marathon slugfest between David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco from the FIRST ROW BASELINE! I had arrived that morning at 11am and left around 11:30pm at night, leaving my seat only twice for a total of about 9 minutes for rapid-fire bathroom breaks and to grab snacks so I wouldn’t want to miss a second of the action.
Videos (of various players’ forehands) I shot from Armstrong and Grandstand at the 2012 US Open
Anyone who was first in line to try to buy individual tickets as soon as they went on sale to the public (June 12) experienced the frustrating reality is that it’s never easy to get the best seats at face value–even if you jump online the instant tickets go on sale: most of the best seats are pre-allocated to corporate sponsors or subscribers who have waited years to upgrade.
So if you missed that initial window, don’t feel badly! If you’re willing to do a little work, there are always good deals to be found throughout the summer. A ton of people will end up posting their tickets for resale on Ticketmaster Exchange or other reseller sites.
Below are the sites that will give you access to the BEST INVENTORY of available tickets. Before buying, be sure to compare options and prices. When searching, try sorting by price, section, row… Get a sense of what the prevailing price for what you want, and when you spot a good deal, grab it!
- (1) ALWAYS first check both of the following:
- The official Ticketmaster US Open tennis tournament site. However, be wary of special “US Open Premium Seating Packages,” which often have prices MUCH higher than comparable seats posted on reseller sites.
- US Open Ticket Exchange (the official USTA reseller via Ticketmaster) This is the official reseller and where I’ve gotten most of the best deals over the years. Do not buy from any other reseller sites before checking this one first! This always has the biggest inventory and, at the very least, will give you a good “benchmark” for prices so you can recognize a good deal when you see it. Note: One of the biggest benefits of purchasing through Ticketmaster is the incredible ease of putting your tickets back up for sale if your plans change or you decide you want to switch days or tickets later. Note: you must have a US bank account to put your tickets up for resale on the Exchange; and you must purchase tickets online to resell them (tickets purchased by phone cannot be resold).
- (2) In addition to the above, it’s often worth checking 1-2 reseller sites listed below to see if you can find an even better deal for comparable seats and inventory. However, be sure to factor in any service fees, which may not appear until you get to the final order summary page. If you check the Ticket Exchange PLUS even one of the sites below to compare, you’ll get tremendous visibility into what’s available and the range of prices:
- Ticket Liquidator – Historically some of the best selection of resale tickets outside Ticketmaster Exchange, fees not shown until checkout
- SeatGeek – Great interface, fees built into display price
- TickPick – No hidden fees, first-displayed price is actual price. Also offers an option to “bid” or name-your-price.
- Stubhub – Historically not much inventory beyond what is offered on any sites above, with high service fees
- (3) Avoid Craigslist or other non-certified resellers! I’ve heard tons of stories over the years of folks who got scammed or had to go through considerable hassle to obtain tickets. Not worth the risk.
- (4) If you end up with tickets you don’t need, you can very easily post your tickets for sale through the US Open Ticket Exchange.
KEY SEATING CHARTS
- Arthur Ashe Stadium
- “Interactive Seat Viewer” to give you a sense of what view is like from specific seats – which from my experience tends to make seats look like they’re closer than they actually feel when you’re there, but helpful nonetheless.
- Louis Armstrong Stadium Seating Chart (2017 only)
- Grandstand Stadium Seating Chart and Grandstand Interactive Seat Map
See Box 3 below for answers to some FAQs, including how to predict when your favorite player will be scheduled
Tip #5. If you can splurge a lot, buy a courtside Ashe seat for a day session — preferably during the second week (go for one of the cheapest ones you can find in a higher row because in all likelihood you’ll be able to sneak up to an empty seat left by someone given a free ticket by a corporate sponsor who doesn’t care about tennis!). Note that Row E is first row in sections 1-6, 31-40, 65-67; and Row F is first row in sections 7,9,11, 26, 29, 30, 60 63, 64, 41, 42. If that’s out of the budget, you can still have an excellent experience in Ashe in the lower Loge rows A-C (or D in sections where D is first row, including 111, 122, 143, 154, 175, 186, 207, and 218).
Tip #6. If you’ve never done it, consider splurging once on a courtside Ashe seat for a night session — if possible after the 3d round of play, once matches start getting very competitive. In 2011 I paid around $450 for a resale ticket to sit in the front row on the baseline courtside at Ashe on Labor Day during the Round of 16 and saw Roger Federer from a few feet away. Below is a video of 45 seconds of Federer perfection I shot from that seat. Best money I’ve ever spent.
BOX 3: FAQs/ Important Stuff I Wish I Had Known Before Buying Tickets the First Time
FAQ #1: Should I buy a subscription ticket plan?
I’m asked this often. For most serious fans, I don’t recommend it. First-time subscribers can only buy “Promenade” seats in Ashe — so high up in that huge stadium you’ll end up watching a lot of the match on the Jumbotron or through binoculars. It could take years to get the chance to upgrade your seats to Loge. For the full series ticket plan price ($2,228 per ticket in 2016) you could buy several amazing seats for multiple sessions over the tournament (or 2 good Loge seats for the Men’s final). Finally, there is always a glut of Promenade seats on the resale market, so if you buy an entire series of Promenade seats you may have a challenge reselling any you don’t need.
FAQ #2: How can I predict which day/time Roger Federer (or any other favorite player) will play?
Unfortunately there’s no way to predict for sure (here’s an overview of how the draws and schedule works)– but you can make good educated guesses based on the Day 1 schedule when it’s announced, which is usually the Friday before the tournament begins (which this year would be Friday August 26). As background, see 2016 Daily Schedule of Play) and the Draws. For instance: say your favorite player is scheduled for Day 1; if they win, they’ll usually have a day off and be scheduled again on Day 3 — and the same is true for anyone else in that player’s “half of the draw” (top or bottom). If your favorite player is not scheduled on Day 1, expect they (and others in their half of the draw) will be scheduled for Day 2 (then Day 4, and so on). Top players are schedule for Ashe, Louis Armstrong, and Grandstand. Superstars and Top 5 (including Nole, Serena, Rafa, Andy Murray) are almost always scheduled for Ashe, and officials tend to alternate them between day and night sessions; for instance, if your favorite player is playing a night session on Ashe Day 1, chances are they will be scheduled for the day session on Ashe on Day 3, and if they win probably night session Day 5, and so on (never 100% certainty, but this is common). If you want to make sure you see your favorite player, you can almost always safely wait until the schedule is announced the day prior (start checking at 4:00pm, usually announced by 6pm), then immediately go to Ticketmaster Exchange (or other sites I mention) and grab a resale ticket. This strategy requires, however, that you monitor the ticket situation closely in the days prior so you’re ready to act quickly – however I’ve never had the experience of not being able to find tickets the day prior because so many people post tickets for resale. Just be prepared to act immediately when schedule is announced. To get a general sense of trends for scheduling, look at the previous year’s schedule – here is the 2016 schedule of play.
FAQ #3: How do a see exactly where seats are that I might purchase (in Ashe, Armstrong, or Grandstand)?
Go to Ticketmaster and click on any session for the stadium in question. Choose Map View (visible on a computer only), then mouse over any of the dots to get the section, row and seat #. Blue dots = regularly priced seats, red dots = fan-to-fan resale seats. Note that for Courtside seats, each lettered “row” in Ashe (e.g. “A” or “H”) actually stands for two rows: e.g., “Row A Seat 5” might actually be in the second row, Row C Seat 6 is probably 6th row). Courtside Sections 48-49, 52-63 and 66-67 go actually have two rows of “AA” seats followed by rows A-H. Also note where the umpire sits (you’ll see a little chair icon on each map — and avoid tickets in sections right behind him or her. And to make matters more complicated… first row for Behind-the-Server seats Courtside begin with E or F: Row E is first row in sections 1-6, 31-40, 65-67; and Row F is first row in sections 7,9,11, 26, 29, 30, 60 63, 64, 41, 42. Here also are links to “big-picture” charts:
- Arthur Ashe Stadium Seating Chart (view from above) and my Ashe Stadium annotated map
- Louis Armstrong Stadium Seating Chart (2017 only)
- Grandstand Stadium Seating Chart.
FAQ #4: Which seats get the most shade?
The new roof in Ashe creates a massive amount of natural shading all day for a large number of seats. The seats that get the most sun are on the East side (see photo above) and this chart. For Temporary Armstrong, you’ll similarly get the most relief on the South side (reserved sections #15 and #1) and West side (#2-6). Ditto for New Grandstand: South sections behind server around section 22 then sections 1-6 wrapping around to the West (especially general admission seats that are higher and near the overhang).
FAQ #5: What happens if it rains? The good news: the new roof over Arthur Ashe is an insurance policy for anyone with Ashe tickets: this year 23,771 fewer fans will be disappointed when it rains. The bad news: if you took invested in great seats for Armstrong or Grandstand (which I have done for years, including in 2016) there isn’t much consolation. Keep in mind that weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable and can change on the hour (I have literally been at Flushing Meadows when my iPhone said it was raining and it wasn’t). There’s always hope that showers will pass quickly. In the highly unlikely event of all-day rain out or under 60 minutes of play (which happened to me unforgettably in 2012 on the day I treated 6 friends to pricy Armstrong front row seats), the session may be rescheduled until the next day and your ticket may be honored then — or, you MAY be able to trade in tickets through the US Open for another session this year or next year if (and only if) you purchased directly from Ticketmaster (see the somewhat complicated 2016 US Open Inclement Weather Policy). In the worst case scenario, I recommend looking for the silver lining: you’ll be surrounded by a ton of other fans with whom you can grab a US Open specialty cocktail, huddle under a shelter, and watch an Ashe match together on a big screen.
- If you go with a friend(s), consider buying a combination of cheap and amazing seats: this way, you can split the cost and trade off time in the great seat. E.g., you could trade time in seats in Promenade vs Courtside, or between stadiums (in Ashe vs a reserved seat in Armstrong or Grandstand). I do this every year with my best friends.
- Armstrong and Grandstand fill up incredibly fast Fri-Mon of Labor Day weekend. If you don’t have a reserved seat for Armstrong for that weekend, you can expect very long lines to get in.
- The direct phone number to the U.S. Open Box Office is 718-760-6363.
Tip #7. The night before you go, check the app or click this link for the detailed daily Schedule of Play for the following day’s schedule and make your game plan so you can beeline directly to the court where the match you care about will happen. You should also download the official US Open Everywhere App (search on app stores for “2017 US Open Tennis” closer to the event) to track the latest schedule, scores and live updates. Also see the official 2016 US Open Event Guide. If someone you really want to see will play on Grandstand or Armstrong, get to the grounds as early as you can so you can be among the first in line when the gates open at 9:30am then speed-walk to those stadiums and grab the best seat you can.
Tip #8. Check out the newly revamped practice courts (that now have bleachers seating over 1,000 people) for close sightings of the superstars including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafa, Serena Williams. View the practice schedule to see when/where players are practicing (you can also see it on the official US Open Everywhere App).
Tip #9. Do not drive unless you really have to (unless a group like Grand Slam Tennis Tours is organizing your travel and don’t have to worry about parking or you can pay for a car service). Instead, take the #7 train (see 7 train schedule here, runs 24 hours, PM times in bold)– or, better yet, the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to Mets-Willets station for the fastest trip (about 15 min from Penn Station!)– but be sure to download the LIRR U.S. Open Special Timetable (this link is for Aug 22-26 – I’ll post updated version as soon as they post it). Also, if you fly into Laguardia (LGA) you can take the NYC “Q48” public bus from Laguardia to the US Open – only about 5 minutes away (the stop is listed on the MTA website as “ROOSEVELT AV/WILLETS PT BL STATION.”
- If you must drive, check out these driving directions. There are parking lots (for a price) near the entrance – you’ll see signs and be directed to available parking at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park lots. Consider buying a parking pass on a resale site to lots A, B, C, F or H (they have shuttles). Here’s a map to parking lots. Normally there’s public parking at Citi Field, but not when Mets are playing at home (see Mets home schedule)-– which this year is Mon Aug 28, Tues Aug 29, and the entire second week of the tournament (Mon Sep 4-Sun Sep 10). As reader Harry pointed out this year, “If you are willing to walk a bit, street parking underneath or south of Highway 495 is a viable option.”
- If you’re thinking of using a cab or Uber or Lyft to take you home after a night match, be prepared for a long wait, hassles, and a very (very) expensive ride with surge pricing. Getting an Uber after an evening session when hundreds or thousands of others are trying to do the same is a nightmare. I tried it in 2016 as an experiment and here’s what happened: (1) Had to go where Uber drivers are now being directed– “zone 3” pickup area for cabs and users, which is a long walk from the South Gate near the globe (trying to meet them by the 7 train street level is really tough given heavy traffic); (2) three Uber drivers cancelled on me after accepting before I finally get one; (3) Surge pricing was in effect, with a ride that should have cost $45 being quoted over $120. If you need to hire a car back home, consider (1) arranging a car service in advance; (2) trying to hail a cab on the street under the 7 train; (3) or taking the 7 train to another local stop THEN calling Uber or a cab.
- AUG 22-25 “Fan Week“: If you’re a real die-hard fan, consider going to the FREE qualifying tournament August 22-25, the week before the main tournament begins. Gates open at/around 9:30am, matches start at 9:30am – this year there are a lot more people showing up than in any previous year, and there’s usually quite a line formed already by 9am. However you can arrive anytime during the day and still get in, no problem. Matches are held on outer courts only (not Ashe). Many matches stretch into evenings. During this tournament, you will see several top players practicing on Armstrong and on the practice bank courts. See the practice schedule here (also available on the app).
- SAT AUG 26: Bring your kids (or treat someone else’s!) to the free Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day. There’s a stadium show at 1pm and premium seats are available on Ticketmaster.
- SUN AUG 27: Go see top players practicing up close by taking advantage of free access to the US Open grounds the day before the main tournament begins to watch practice sessions – it’s one of the best-kept secrets that the grounds are open to the public all day.
Box 4: FREE ADMISSION ON THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 7th! (Gates open at Noon)
Doubles Semifinals Plus the World’s Top Wheelchair, Junior, and Collegiate Players
One of the best-kept secrets is that you can enter the US Open grounds for free on the second Thursday (gates open at noon, must arrive before 5pm) and see the Doubles Semifinals plus all-star wheelchair players, the world’s top juniors, and incredible collegiate players. If you are a serious tennis fan, particularly if you’re a doubles player, this is a day not to be missed.
And here’s a serious inside scoop: this year, for the first time, officials are pLanting to put top wheelchair players on Arthur Ashe stadium Sep 7 at Noon and we will be able to access courtside seats for free (assuming weather cooperates and the tournament stats on schedule).
I will be there myself, both because it’s always a thrill to sit courtside at Ashe but most importantly because watching wheelchair tennis is awesomely exciting. And I have profound respect for wheelchair athletes and want to be among those cheering them on in person. Hope you’ll consider joining me – I’m going to try to sit in Courtside Section 7 (will update here if anything changes).
Among the world-class wheelchair players to watch at this year’s US Open:
- 2017 Wimbledon Wheelchair Doubles Champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, pictured above after their Wimbledon win.
- Men’s s player Shingo Kunieda, who had a three-year, 106-match consecutive win streak (2007-2010), then another big winning streak of 77 matches in 2014-2015.
- Women’s singles player Yui Kamiji, who has only lost 2 matches since Jan 18, 2017 and American women’s wildcard player Dana Mathewson.
- The world’s #1 in the “Quad” (quadriplegic) division (ranked #1 in singles and doubles), American David Wagner. Born in 1974, David became paralyzed from the mid-chest down at age 21 when he was playing frisbee on the beach and a wave tossed him head-first into the sand. With only thirty percent function in his hands, David plays by taping the tennis racket to his hand. And by all accounts he’s a super cool guy besides being an extraordinary athlete (picture right).
- For Foodies: Check out this awesome Grub Street post, “17 Outstanding Things to Eat and Drink When You Go to This Year’s US Open.” Soft-Shell Crab Bocadillos? Yes please.
- Need an affordable hotel room? Fellow tennis fanatic Melissa maintains a great list of hotels appealing to all budgets, starting at $25 per night. These accommodations are open to public, but are not always listed on generic hotel travel websites or they may be listed as ‘specialty lodging.’ While you may have to compromise to stay in one of these hotels, like a shared bathroom, or no television, you cannot beat the prices for these locations.
- Got an Amex card? Bring it. As reader Jason wrote last year in Q&As: “Cool experiences and a large chill area/tent. Along with an earpiece radio to follow other matches.” And as reader Linda noted this year: “if you spend more than $100 on merchandise they will credit you back $20.”
- Do your shopping for US Open gear early in the tournament – stores run out of the popular sizes fast.
- Bring a backup phone charger if you have one. There are some re-charging stations, but after all the photos and video you take with your phone and use of Wi-Fi your phone will run out of juice quickly.
- Beginning in 2016, they sold $25 General Admission tickets for Friday-Sunday of finals weekend on Ticketmaster so fans could walk the grounds, see juniors play, and watch Ashe matches on the big screens. Check closer to finals weekend to see if they do the same this year (I will update here if I find out).
If you have an opportunity, consider performing a random act of kindness for fellow fans during the tournament. Our tennis community is big, but relatively speaking, it’s small… Our passion for our sport is infectious; do something kind for someone today, they’re likely to pay it forward. Last year, a reader emailed me saying he had an emergency and couldn’t go to the tournament but had amazing New Grandstand seats – he asked if I knew anyone that would really value them for free so they didn’t go to waste. I was able to share with a fanatic who’s in town on a budget, who as you can imagine was elated. In past years, I’ve gifted a lot of tickets myself – and it always feels wonderful. It takes seconds to “transfer” tickets from Ticketmaster/Ticketmaster Exchange to others simply by putting in an email address. On site, you can also make someone’s day (or year!) by surprising a stranger with your amazing reserved seats in Ashe, Armstrong, or Grandstand if you have to leave early. Especially if you have Ashe Courtside seats and need to leave early — there will always be die-hard fans waiting just outside the exit from the Courtside level hoping someone might pass along their ticket when done!
Would love to hear any reactions and additional thoughts and advice from fellow tennis fanatics in the comments section below!
Please note: I am a little overextended these days with two demanding full-time jobs, but will try to approve and reply to any comments as quickly as possible – just may be a little slow to respond given the volume… There will be a lag between when you submit a comment and when you see it appear – this is so I can stay on top of which comments I owe replies to.
* (Top photo credit: I took these photos at US Open 2011 and 2012)