Saturday, September 5, 2009

Grand Slam

Noe and I watch a lot of tennis, as you may have gathered from previous posts about attending tennis tournaments in Indianapolis and Newport. This year, we decided that being so close to New York provided too great an opportunity to pass up: we made the decision to attend our first major, the U.S. Open.

We took the Metro-North from New Haven into Grand Central and then hopped on the subway to get to Queens (FYI - the parts of Queens you see from the subway windows do NOT look like "The King of Queens"). We could see the silhouette of Arthur Ashe stadium as the train pulled in - wow.

The Billie Jean King Tennis Center is the most beautiful sports venue I have ever seen. The grounds are meticulously landscaped and extremely clean. Noe and I kind of stood stupidly and stared for awhile before deciding where to head first.

We chose to get in the line to go into the grandstand (the smallest of the three stadiums). We were rewarded for our patient waiting when we walked into the small stadium and on the court was none other than Gael Monfils, one of our favorite up-and-coming French players. Monfils is incredibly athletic and is known for leaping and diving all over the court. He also slides a lot. Naturally, this style of play is particularly effective on clay, but Monfils manages to employ it on a hard court as well. We could hear his sneakers squealing before we even entered the stands.

Monfils running for a shorter shot

After Mofils sewed up his victory over Jermey Chardy, we headed to our nosebleed seats in Arthur Ashe (the big stadium). We had thought about just buying grounds passes but figured if we were going to our first major we should try to see someone really big. Neither of us imagined we would actually see our current favorite, Rafael Nadal. But sure enough, thanks to the luck of the draw, that is exactly who ended up playing the afternoon headliner on Wednesday. And before him, Venus Williams. So we ended up with an excellent double bill, totally worth the money. Actually, had Noe and I known it was going to be Nadal, we would have shelled out the bigger bucks to sit closer.

After the Nadal match ended, we wandered the grounds for awhile. We explored the food and beverage options (the Open has all kinds of food, from sushi to seafood to pasta to crepes; and tennis attracts high-end booze sponsors like Grey Goose, who had beverage carts set up every five feet), then we checked out the wall of champions. We perused the outer courts for awhile, catching Robbie Ginepri's win.

We were headed back to the grandstand to watch some of Lleyton Hewitt's match when we noticed a small crowd gathering. We followed, and found ourselves about three feet away from John and Patrick McEnroe, who were doing some commentary for one of the TV broadcasts. (The guys behind us were debating whether or not to yell "Jimmy Connors rules!"; they ultimately decided on NOT.)

We watched Hewitt grind out the first set with Chela, then sadly gave up our seats to catch the subway and head back to CT. The sadness of leaving the Open was slightly dampened when I found the Grand Central Market still open and was able to make a Murray's run, but we still spent the train ride back wishing we could have stayed.

The U.S. Open is the best sporting event I have ever attended. The grounds are nice, you can see high-quality play up close, and tennis fans are great - they like the big names, but if an underdog starts making a good run, they rally behind him or her. There are about a million different languages being spoken all around and every chair umpire has a different accent. If we stay in CT, I definitely plan to attend this event in the future.

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