Next morning, Tuesday the 30th, we quickly settled into what became our routine for the 3 days we were delighted to be spending at the US Open, Billie Jean King Tennis Center, Flushing Meadow, Queens, NY. Up fairly early, a great breakfast in the dining room – I got in the habit of reading the tabloid – just a little dab of truth in each story. Fun to play with.
The hotel had a shuttle every 15 minutes to the tennis, and we had to make a call to be picked up when ready (about 12 hours later). So easy. The Open is big, but very manageable – laid out in a way that makes sense, and with great signage. Something like 18 courts, plus the show courts (Arthur Ashe, Louis Armstrong, Grandstand, Court 17) plus practice courts off to the side.
Real shopping available, not intrusive and everywhere, plus food stands, programs and drawsheets, cable, network and radio setups, fountains, TV and score screens scattered around – a very pretty place and pretty much everything you’re ever going to need. Helpful and friendly New Yorkers volunteering – one welcomer saw my android and offered to take our picture on the spot.
One major difference between theirs and ours – shade! You’re never very far from real shade at the Open. Several hundred umbrella tables at the food court, two other big shaded restaurants, trees and grassy areas scattered around, many surrounding the courts. Most of the courts have walls of ivy-covered brick, high enough that there’s usually shade in one corner or another.
So picking a match to watch of the 20 or so going on at one time early in the week involves figuring out a number of factors – who’s playing? which court and how crowded is it likely to be? can we even get in? and where’s the shade?
And then there’s Arthur Ashe Stadium – biggest tennis stadium in the world (seats 20,000 plus). Our tickets were very reasonably priced – and that’s because they were up in the stratosphere, with the clouds. Try being in Row U in Section 309. Most of the time we sat lower, and waited to see if the correct occupants were going to show up. When they did, we’d move (same applies at the W&S here), but in the meantime we stayed.
It was fun to watch people coming up the first little steps and looking up to see where their seats were. The gulp was audible. But the steps are not as steep as Music Hall’s third level, and once you’re sitting looking at the court, there’s so much to watch, the distance becomes a non-issue.
The food and food choices – just incredible. Maybe 20 different cuisines plus the regular – a deli, franks, pizza. And priced just about like here, where a good portion of the price is actually donated to charities. Wraps at the Indian booth, I lived a lot of one day on knishes, a crepes booth, all in permanent structures.
Beautiful, manageable, big and friendly as can be. We should step up to this model!