We are huge tennis fans and have completed the “Fan Slam” by attending the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Australian Open. Since we live in the New York area, we have attended the US Open dozens of times. Daytime, nighttime, rain delays, marathon matches. We’ve experienced them all. Sue even tried out to be a ball person this year. Here are our insider’s tips for a great time at the Open.
What Is The US Open?
In 2019, more than 700,000 people attended the US Open Tennis Championships held by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). It is one of the four major tennis tournaments (called the Grand Slams) in the world. The top players in the world come to New York (Queens) to compete.
Get Tickets Early For Ashe Stadium
There are many types of tickets. Subscribers buy a set of tickets for multiple days and sometimes even for the entire tournament. Arthur Ashe Stadium tickets allow you into the main and largest stadium. Tickets for Ashe sell out quickly, especially for the weekends and the end of the tournament. Get your tickets as early as possible.
Accessibility At The US Open
The US Open has accessible seating and is wheelchair-friendly. You need to book accessible seating when you purchase your tickets. Wheelchair escort service is available within the grounds (first come, first served).
Grounds Passes Are The Best Tickets
Grounds passes allow you to go to all the courts except Ashe Stadium. We like to spend a lot of time on the outside courts close to the players so grounds passes are perfect for us. If you only want to see the top players, then Ashe tickets may be more your cup of tea. There are so many matches early in the tournament that you’ll see many of the top players on outside courts.
Reserved Seating At Armstrong Or The Grandstand Is Not Worth It
You can also get tickets for reserved seating in some of the smaller stadiums like Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand. We don’t usually do that because you can get into those stadiums and find a great seat without having to pay extra.
Go To A Night Session
The US Open is famous for its night matches. It’s tennis New York style. Noisy. Raucous. And some of the very best matches each year take place at night. We highly recommend that you get a ticket for Ashe for at least a night session.
Sometimes the day session runs so long it extends into the evening. While you’re waiting in line to get into the stadium, check the US Open app and see if there’s anything interesting still happening on some of the outside courts or the smaller stadiums. You might be able to catch the end of a match before the main event.
Don’t Drive To The Open
In our opinion, the best way to get to the US Open is by mass transit. Getting there by car means a lot of traffic and expensive parking. You also missed the fun of traveling with a whole bunch of fans excited about the day’s matches.
You can either take the 7 subway or the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The 7 train goes all through Queens, and you get off at Mets-Willets Point (second to last stop). It takes 40+ minutes from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. The LIRR is quicker (about 20 minutes from Penn Station), and the stop is the same.
Prepare To Be In The Sun All Day
The day session runs from 11 a.m.–5 or 6 p.m. You need a hat, sunscreen, and water or a water bottle (must be plastic). A seat cushion and good walking shoes are not a bad idea. If you want to take photos, bring a camera. Remember, you cannot bring large bags onto the grounds so be selective.
The regulars at the US Open know exactly where the shady spots are in all the stadiums and courts. Those seats fill up fast and people often sit in them for the whole day. If you can snag one of those, hang onto it.
Options For Entering The Grounds
There’s more than one entrance at the US Open but most people head straight for the main entrance (East Gate). The other entrance is around to the left (South Gate), and it can sometimes be quicker.
Within the masses of people entering the stadium, there are two separate entrance lines: one for people with bags and one for people without. It is quickest to get in if you don’t have a bag. We often wear cargo shorts so that we don’t have to carry a bag. Sometimes we will bring a folding bag with us and unfold (and empty our pockets) it once we get inside the gate. Other times we just get on the line for people with bags.
Strategies For Grounds Pass Holders
Over the years we’ve used a lot of different strategies with our grounds passes. Sometimes we come very early and camp out for the entire day in one of the smaller stadiums. The atmosphere is intimate and exhilarating. Another strategy is to hit all the outside courts to see some of the newer and up-and-coming players. When we do this, we catch part of a lot of matches. The matches start at 11 a.m. but get there at 10 a.m. to beat the crowd and get a good seat for your first match.
Download The US Open App
We always arrive at the stadium with an idea of what matches we want to see. The schedule is posted the night before on the US Open app and the website. You can check the app during the day to see if something exciting is happening and to keep track of your favorite players.
American Express usually has loaner radio earpieces that you can use to listen to the live commentaries while you are at the Open.
OMG, Water Costs $7: Eating At the Open
Yes, water does cost $7 at the US Open. You have a couple of choices. One, accept the fact that you’re going to spend a lot of money on food and water. Or two, bring food and water with you. We always bring a water bottle with us so that we can continue to fill it while we’re there. There are drinking fountains for refilling bottles situated near the bathrooms. We often bring fruit and small snacks to supplement the lunch that we purchase.
Weathering Rain Delays
While Ashe Stadium has a roof that closes in the event of rain, play on the outside courts stops. This could mean many hours looking for cover, sheltering in the shops, or hiding out near the food court. Bring a towel so you can dry yourself or use it to dry your seat once the rain stops.
We love being at the Open the day after a long rain delay in the first week. Why? Due to the previous day’s match cancellations, there are a ton of matches taking place all over the outside courts.
Don’t Forget About Doubles
We love watching doubles. The matches are fast with lots of volleying and generate a lot of excitement. If you’re a recreational doubles player, it’s a great opportunity to see how the best in the world do it.
Checkout The Juniors, Wheelchair, And Legacy Matches
There’s much more to the US Open than just the top matches in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The juniors, the wheelchair tournament, and the legacy matches are all wonderful events. If you are there during the second week, get out of Ashe Stadium and go watch the juniors. We’ve had amazing opportunities to see some of the current stars before they turned pro. The wheelchair tennis tournament is exciting and a great competition to watch and support.
The Qualies Are Free
The US Open Qualifying Tournament (the qualies) occurs a week or two before the main US Open starts. The top players from the qualies gain entry to the US Open. You’ll see future stars and players returning from injuries. They are free and can be a wonderful experience.
Where To Shop At The US Open
A T-shirt or a cap from the US Open makes a great souvenir. Check out the USTA booth first. If you join the USTA, you are supporting the game and the T-shirts are discounted.
There are retail stores of sponsors like Nike or Wilson, and booths offering games and a chance to score giveaways. One year Reggie couldn’t pass up the chance to “take a virtual picture with Nadal” — during a car promotion.
Those are our top tips for the US Open. Since we live in the area, it is our home slam and we’ve been there many times. Seeing the top players in the world playing with such passion and creativity is one of the most fun things that you can do at the end of the summer in New York.
Seeing the US Open Tennis Tournament may fuel your interest in other types of sports: