Your Guide To The US Tennis Open

This year I was lucky enough to attend both the US and Australian Tennis Open events. Attending all the Grand Slams has always been high on my bucket list. Hopefully I’ll make it to Wimbledon and the French Open, so that I can check this item off my list.

For those of you attending the US Open for the first time, below is everything you need to know to make the most of your experience at Flushing Meadows.

 

How To Get To There

Hands down the easiest way to get to the US Open is by using the subway. The 7 train (which runs through Grand Central Station) stops at Mets-Willets Point Station, which is a short walk to the South Gate.

A word of caution, the lines to get into the grounds were horrific when I attended. I waited over 30 minutes under the scorching sun to get in. Do yourself a favor – DON’T bring a bag. There’s two lines at the gate: an express line and a line for people with bags. The line for people with bags moved slower.

The line into the US Open was horrific the day I attended. I waited 30 minutes in the hot sun to pass the check in gates.
The line into the US Open was horrific the day I attended. I waited 30 minutes in the hot sun to pass the check in gates.

 

What NOT To Bring To The US Open

The following items are prohibited on the US Open tennis grounds (from the US Open Site):

  • Backpacks
  • Hard coolers or like containers
  • Sealed packages of any kind
  • Bottles or cans (glass or metal)
  • Aerosol cans or noisemaking devices
  • Alcohol
  • Video cameras or recording devices
  • Computers or laptops
  • Food (except in limited quantities, or for medical, dietary or infant purposes)
  • Weapons
  • Animals (unless a service animal)
  • Flags, banners or signs
  • Any materials constituting unauthorized advertising or promotion
  • Laser pointing devices
  • Tennis racquets
  • Drones (UAS-Unmanned Aircraft Systems) or other model aircraft
  • “Selfie” sticks or other telescopic devices
Make sure you pay attention to things that are restricted from the US Open
Make sure you pay attention to things that are restricted from the US Open


Basic Essentials For The US Open

A big part of your US Open experience will be impacted by New York’s unpredictable end-of-summer weather. It can vary from pleasant to feeling like you’ve been scorched to death in the Sahara Desert.

Below are the essentials you should consider when coming to the US Open:

  1. Dress for the weather: If the forecast calls for hot weather, make sure you wear light breathable clothing. If cooler weather is expected then dress in layers so that you can put on or take off clothes during the day.
  2. Bring sunscreen, a hat and maybe an umbrella: I can’t stress the dangers of sun enough. When I was there, several players and ball boys collapsed from the glaring heat of the day.
    1. Make sure you protect your skin and use sunscreen. I forgot to wear sunscreen and was badly burnt.
    2. What shocked me the most at the US Open was there was practically no shaded seats in any of the small courts.  NONE!!   What made the Australian Open bearable was the ability to skip between courts, going from shaded to open seating during the day. This really helped in combating the heat exhaustion.  That’s not possible at the US Open, you’ll be under the sun all day. So make sure to wear a hat. On some of the outer courts I saw people sitting under their umbrellas, which must have been nice. Just make sure if you bring an umbrella, you’re sitting the back of the court and that there’s no one behind you.
  3. Bring a plastic bottle and snacks: I’ll get into the concessions situation later in the post, but do your wallet a favor and bring a plastic water bottle and some (small) snacks. Prices at the US Open are a rip off.
  4. Forget US Open App – bring a schedule of the day’s games: I downloaded the US Open App to help me keep track of the day’s activities as I jumped around the courts. I have to admit, I found the app to be disappointing as it didn’t list all the scheduled games for the day. It’s inconvenient for anyone trying to plan out matches they wanted to see ahead of time.
The heat at the US Open was no joke. Players between games would need to be iced down and sit in the shade.
The heat at the US Open was no joke. Players between games needed to be iced down and sit in the shade.


Food And Drinks (Price Gouging)

I’ve mentioned this in my post on attending the Australian Open, pricing at Grand Slam events is a rip off. I’m taking about $10 beers, $6 water (only Evian) and sandwiches starting at $14 – $15.

If you’re planning to the spend the day and didn’t bring water or snacks, then expect to spend a small fortune at the concessions. I’m the cheapest person I know, but under the sun’s heat my mind stopped working. I ended up emptying my wallet at these stands.

 

What Kind Of Tickets Should You Buy

My rule for tickets at a Grand Slam is if you’re attending first or second rounds then General Admission tickets should be more than enough. During these rounds it’s practically an orgy of tennis matches spread across the outer courts.

I’ve always enjoyed skipping between these courts and catching a glimpse of lower ranked players. It’s an intimate experience. You’ll see the players up close. You’ll also get to watch their coaches and family members cheer them on or get upset as they win or lose their match. Entertaining stuff.

Past the third rounds the match-ups in the main stadiums start to get more interesting, justifying the investment of the pricier tickets.

My final recommendation is to try and attend the US Open during both the day and evening sessions. You’ll be surprised at how different the experience is. The evening sessions are generally focused on fewer matches and the weather tends to be more pleasant.

 

Navigating the US Open Grounds

The great thing about the US Open is the grounds are very compact making it very easy to get oriented to where you are and where you want to go. Make sure you print the match schedule at home and plan out which games you want to see for that day.

I strongly recommend you watch one or two games in the new Grandstand stadium. This court has plenty General Admission seats and later in the day parts of the court becomes shaded.

The US Tennis Grounds is fairly compact. So Jumping between courts is easy.
The US Tennis Grounds is fairly compact. So Jumping between courts is easy.

 

Watch Tennis For Free

If you can’t afford to purchase tickets to the US Open, it’s still possible to watch some tennis for free:

  • The qualifying tournament (for lower ranked players) is usually played over the three days before the tournament starts. These matches are FREE!! The gates open around 9am and the matches are played on the outer courts throughout the day.
  • Also the day before the tournament, many of the top players practice on the back courts. This is one of the US Open’s best kept secrets. It’s a great way to see the top stars up close and personal.

 

Below is my Vlog from my experience at the US Open on opening day. Even though the weather was brutally hot, it was still an amazing experience!