While savvy local tennis fans know that a visit to the qualifying rounds of the U.S. Open can be more rewarding (and accessible) than the main draw, perhaps the best kept secret in tennis are the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon held at The Bank of England Sports Centre in Roehampton, just a few miles from the All England Club.
Tickets to "The Championships" are all but impossible to get in advance and the walk-up tickets released daily means hours waiting in queue. Roehampton is different, surrounded by wide-open cricket fields, grass and rolling hills, it's intimate, accessible and charming. No tickets are needed to this incredible event … just walk up and make a small charitable donation.
If you would like to see some of the best players in the world up close (really close, you may have to duck to avoid an ace) in a beautiful and non-crowded setting, do yourself a favor and go to Roehampton!
Steven 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 New York 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.