Google Down the Line!: Surviving the US Open one tip at a time

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Surviving the US Open one tip at a time

Hey Down the Liners! Please welcome Liz Miller who writes the blog Match Point Travel. She's visited the US Open for years and wrote up a "US Open Survival Guide" for anyone making their way to Flushing Meadows next week. Take it away, Liz!

Heading out to the US Open? Here are some tips to make sure you have the best time possible.

Read the rest of Liz Miller's "US Open Survival Guide" after the jump.

The following items are crucial, just don’t put them in a backpack since they are banned at the Open. Here is the official list of prohibited items.

Water. This is pretty self-explanatory. Late summer in New York can be extremely hot and humid and the fans need to keep hydrated almost as much as the players. I would highly recommend freezing a large bottle of water the night before and then you will have cold water throughout the day as it melts. You can refill it for free at the water fountains.

Food/Snacks. Bring lunch if you can! The food at the Open is really pricey and the lines at the food court can be out of control since everyone shows up pretty much at the same time. Plus, if you are on any court other than Ashe you will have to leave your seat when you get hungry and there is no guarantee you will be able to get back in, even if someone is saving your seat. The official guidelines say you can only bring limited quantities of food but honestly I have seen fans bring in literally an entire Indian buffet without getting in trouble. Save your money for a fantastic dinner as there are so many great restaurants in the city. Check out some of my suggestions at the end of this post.

Sunblock, Hat and Sunglasses. Unless you like being burnt to a crisp or paying over $15 for a tiny bottle of sunblock, I highly recommend bringing these items from home. You might be watching the most amazing match but if you’re getting heat stroke it really won’t be too enjoyable. There is very limited amount of shade on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center grounds and the sun can be very strong. So don’t forget your most fashionable shades, trendiest fedora or RF cap and enough sunscreen to make it through the day.

Comfortable Shoes. The Open can be a bit of a fashion show but if you’re going to the day session during the first week I would really suggest wearing shoes that don’t leave you limping in pain. There is a ton of walking that is required; from the minute you get off the subway and have to make your way down the boardwalk to the National Tennis Center to rushing between courts to catch all the day’s matches. The night session, when you’re just sitting in Arthur Ashe Stadium, is a totally different story as most people come from work in their business attire. In that case, feel free to wear your most painful Manolos or Louboutins!

A Pen. Kind of obvious and simple but this really comes in handy. When I get my draw sheet, I like marking the matches I want to see throughout the day. During the first week there are a ton of matches going on and this is an easy way of keeping track of them all and coming up with a rough plan. I also fill in the draw as the matches progress so I can get a better sense of who will be playing who in the next round. 90% of my conversations with friends/family during the Open are about which player won their match and who are they playing next (the other 10% is how much I love Roger Federer).

Money. Everything at the Open is expensive! It boggles my mind how much stuff people buy at a typical day at the Open. If I only had 1% of those receipts I’d be set financially for a while! Of course there is nothing wrong with buying some food/drinks, a t-shirt, hat, program which is what I end up doing but I always laugh when the gates open and people beeline right to the stores and food court as if they could not wait to start spending their money. Are they here to eat and buy apparel or to watch tennis? The only ATMs on the grounds are for Chase since they are a major sponsor so if that is not your bank, make sure to take out enough cash before you get to the Open. Of course credit cards are accepted - American Express, which is another major sponsor, usually has some sort of promotion going if you charge a certain amount on their card.

Other tips:

Getting to the Open. Most information you will read will suggest taking the #7 train all the way from Manhattan to the National Tennis Center. Unless you like sitting on a subway for an hour making 15 or so stops, don’t. The quicker way is to catch the E or F train in Manhattan. Since these are express trains, it will only be a quick ride until the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue stop in Queens where you can switch to the #7. From here, it is only 6 stops to the Open.

Tickets. Hopefully you have your tickets by now but if not, there are still some options. The most popular sessions are the day sessions during Labor Day Weekend as well as the men’s semis and final. For those tickets, you pretty much have to pay inflated prices on re-seller websites. For the first week sessions, Ticketmaster may still have tickets, otherwise a few thousand grounds passes go on sale each morning. I suggest getting there as early as possible because these will sell out quickly. There are often a lot of great ticket deals for the 2nd week day sessions, click here for more info.

Now that you are all set for your day at the Open, here are some restaurant suggestions for a great dinner after all that amazing tennis:

Moderate - Upscale

DBGB Kitchen & Bar (Burgers / Gastropub)
Blue Fin (Seafood)
Balthazar (French Bistro)

Budget – Moderate

Otto Enoteca & Pizzaria (Italian)
Eatery (American)
Corner Bistro (Burgers)

For a lot more great tips and my countdown of the 10 most memorable US Open matches that I attended, check out my website,

Liz Miller is a long-time tennis fan who has traveled to many professional tournaments. Her website, Match Point Travel, offers help to tennis fans with their travel planning to tournaments around the world. Follow her on Facebook here.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

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