By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The US Open Tennis Championship draws tennis fans from around the world to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park to what has become a glitzy and elite affair, but the week before the US Open tournament starts, there is the US Open Qualifying Matches, and for New Yorkers, a fabulous festival of tennis when the gates are flung open for all to enjoy.
From August 22-25, there is free admission to watch the US Open Qualifying matches – thrilling high quality play when all is on the line – as well as opportunities to watch your favorite pros on the practice courts (they now post the practice schedule).
There is a festive atmosphere and an amazingly intimate quality to being able to watch the matches close up, from prime seats.
This year, you will see an amazing transformation underway – construction is still going on for what will be the completely new Armstrong stadium.
The grounds are impressive, despite the construction underway (and during the Qualifying rounds, you see all the preparations and set-up activity, as well), with gorgeous views of the iconic Unisphere, the centerpiece of the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow Park, and a Walk of Champions.
The Qualifying Matches, when more than 100 players from around the world fight for a coveted spot in the Open, are exciting to watch. If they make it through three rounds of the Qualifying tournament, they will earn their spot to play in the Open; 16 out of 128 will advance. The matches are fabulous, and what is more, you can see the players really up close, you can wander around from match to match. I love the match-ups of nations: China versus a Chinese-American player; Russia versus Italy, as well as seeing how the challengers do against seeded players.
In fact, the quality of the competition rivals for your time and attention from the opportunity to watch Tennis Royalty warming up in the new Grandstand, as well as the practice courts.
Here, too, you can see the greats from a perch you would never have during the actual tournament.
The four days of matches are free and the festival atmosphere is enhanced with special events including Children’s Day activities, musical presentations, and the excitement of seeing the world’s best players practicing. You never know who you will encounter.
The quality of play at the qualifying matches is superb, and Everyday Joes have front-row seats to the intense action. It’s particular fun to wander from match to match.
This year, the US TA is continuing the tradition of Community Day, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 7, when the gates are thrown open (for free admission) beginning at noon to watch some of the game’s biggest names in the professional, collegiate and wheelchair ranks, as well as the world’s top juniors. Tournament play features:
- Men’s and women’s doubles
- Men’s and women’s wheelchair competition
- US Open Juniors
- American Collegiate Invitational
Visit http://www.usopen.org to get daily schedules, results, videos, live streaming.
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