If It’s Free, It’s For Me: 2011 US Tennis Open


If  It’s Free, It’s For Me:  2011 US  Tennis Open Not a huge tennis fan,  but always up for a new adventure with pals… Dee is an old friend I have not seen much of lately, so when she suggested this, it sounded perfect.

Every August, in the week before the US Open is held in Flushing Meadow Park, is a free qualifying tournament.

YES!  Free parking, free access to all the qualifying tournaments-you just walk in and sit down. There were vendors selling programs, and I think , too, a listing of matchups and schedules, but neither of us really follow tennis, so we wouldn’t have known who was who, or how to pick, so we just wandered.

We got STUPID-LUCKY, the first match we wandered into featured #5 seed David Ferrer from Spain.  In other matches, also caught Go Soeda,  of Japan; and Jesse Galung, of the Netherlands.

Not being focused on the finer points of the game itself, was able to ponder all sorts of other incidentals:

Don’t  understand the scoring, but the protocols of the game were  fascinating:  Everything from how the ball kids entered, then ran on the court, how towels and balls were handed to the players in between points, even pre-match preparations, like measuring the height of the net, and signing off on it all-was replicated with military precision on every court, for every match.

Makes sense, just not the stuff you’d see if you were watching on TV.

Also learned it takes a lot of people to make a match official: Not counting security or supervisors, there were a total 15:   Six ball ‘kids’ , seven judges, and ohyes, the two players.

And a LOT of towels!!   In between points players could signal for one, for a quick wipe. Even my untrained eye could see other strategies at work.

One player in particular signaled for a towel at every opportunity; most times it was a delicate dab to his mouth, like one would practice with a linen napkin, in a fine restaurant. He was losing; whether he was not good, or the other guy was just on fire-who knows, but it  was a great stalling technique.  

But that begot other questions-was each towel fresh-or just aired out?  Then, WHO WASHES ALL THESE TOWELS?? 

Two other take-aways:

Decorative sports tape is the must-have sports accssory: Tape that functioned to support, or dispense some type of therapy made a fashion statement on several players. What looked like lace graced the back of one female player; blue (Painters’ tape!) complimented this player’s outfit, while doing something else more worthwhile, I’m sure.

Black Sharpie pens: bring your own-bring several! Better yet, inquire about investing in Sharpie concession.  Collecting autographs on tennis balls were all  the rage; but for every kid holding a ball-there was a black Sharpie pen in the other hand.

Also loved the un-automated brackets on the outer walls of the stadium.

Set on the grounds of the 1964 World’s Fair, it was a delightful two-fer to wander over and see the iconic Unishpere. Never been, always wanted to, and it was great. Beautiful gardens, lovely day-couldn’t have asked for more.

Yesterday was the last day for this year’s event, but if you’re a fan, make note for next year, you’ll have a blast.