The U.S. Open is a great event, and we are blessed to be so close to the action, but a trip to the Open can be hot, crowded and expensive. To best enjoy the Open, it's useful to know how to negotiate the experience and here are a few suggestions.
1. Dress for the weather
While the new Arthur Ashe Stadium can be covered against the elements and become climate controlled in minutes, the outside courts remain outside. If you go the first Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, the day matches can spill into late in the evening on the outside courts. Often, it's less crowded and very exciting, but remember a warm late summer day can get downright chilly at night. Furthermore, a sudden rainstorm can also leave you soaked and shivering. Come prepared with a sweatshirt and a poncho or a Gold Card as you will need these if the weather changes.
2. Travel light
Now I know I just said come prepared with a little extra clothing and adding an empty water bottle will save you and the environment from costly Evian bottles, but be careful. You do not want to be on the line for people with backpacks or large bags. Traveling light at the U.S. Open is like having an EZ-Pass. The security line for spectators with bags is brutal.
3. Print a schedule at home
Some of the courts with super matchups outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium can get very crowded. The Grandstand, for example, is legendary for epic upsets and long smelly lines that snake around the bowels (literally past the outdated bathrooms) of Armstrong Stadium. Bring a schedule as it will help you plan out finding a seat on a court to a match that you want to see before the previous match is done.
4. Come at night
Night matches at the U.S. Open are fun, and I actually feel like I watch more tennis because I'm not wandering around and waiting for several changeovers to enter a different court 11 times as is the custom during the daytime.
5. Stay home
While there is something special about seeing the Open live, you can probably buy a nice 4K LED TV for the cost of bringing a family of four for the day. The matches are broadcast in high definition and you can stream just about every match on every court. I usually turn the sound down so I still hear that satisfying crunch of the ball, while avoiding the boorish announcing.
Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 state high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.