Tennis, Anyone? (Yes Please!)

Tennis, Anyone? (Yes Please!)

It is once again time for the US Open, the annual hard court tennis tournament that has taken place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens since 1978.

The US Open is the fourth tournament in a calendar year that makes up the Grand Slam (the other tournaments being the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon). It is the only tennis tournament that has been played every single year since it first started in 1881. More events have been added, of course, as when the US Open began, the only competition was men’s singles. The US Open as we know it today consists of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles as well as mixed doubles.

Six-time US Open Champion, Serena Williams (©Andrew Ong)

August 29 marks the official start of the tournament, though qualifying rounds have been played since August 23. Players in the qualifying rounds—usually those ranked 105+ in the world as well as USTA-awarded wild card players—must win three matches to advance to the actual first round of the US Open where only 16 men and 16 women compete in the singles tournaments. Singles players can compete in multiple tournaments during the same US Open as part of doubles and mixed doubles teams. Similarly, doubles players could potentially play on both same-sex doubles and mixed doubles teams.

Last year’s women’s singles champion, Flavia Pennetta (Italy) memorably played against Roberta Vinci (Italy) in the final after Vinci defeated Serena Williams (U.S.) in the semis. Pennetta retired from the sport in October 2015, so the title is back up for grabs. It’s expected that number one ranked and seeded player Serena Williams will play for her seventh US Open victory. Her sister, Venus, is in the mix as well, ranked and seeded sixth in the world.

Defending men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic (Serbia) enters the tournament as both the number one ranked and seeded player. He, as well as Andy Murray (Great Britain; number two ranked and seeded) and Rafael Nadal (Spain; number five ranked, number four seeded) will be the ones to watch and, unless there is a huge upset, at least one of them will likely reach the men’s finals. The number four ranked men’s player in the world—and the one who I’ve been rooting for for years—Roger Federer (Switzerland) withdrew from the tournament because of a knee injury. I guess I’ll have to cheer on someone else this year.

Defending men's singles champion, Novak Djokovic (©Peter Staples)

You can buy tickets to watch the US Open in person here. You can purchase admission to the tennis center as well as to specific matches. The athletes play at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Grandstand and the Louis Armstrong Stadium within the sports complex. There is limited parking at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in, so it’s advised to use public transportation—the 7 train and Long Island Rail Road are your best options.

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