It was a beautiful day to be perched on the biggest rooftop in all of the Nation’s Capital–the W Hotel Roof Bar and Ballroom. Directly adjacent from the White House, it has kept the eyes of watchful Secret Service agents on the VIP-neighboring rooftop very busy for many years. Today, the eyes were on tennis in Washington, and like all gossip in this town, the major details had crept out before the announcement was officially made.
The ATP Event Formerly Known As Legg Mason Tennis Classic (TATPEFKALMTC) is now CitiOpen. What’s more, the WTA event known as CitiOpen is also coming to D.C., ending a one year run only twenty minutes away in College Park, Maryland.
The old Grandstand, behind the main stadium, will be upgraded and a second Grandstand show court with 2,500 seats will be added at the north (entrance) end of the Rock Creek Park facility.
As you can see from the Q&A conducted by 2012 Tournament Director (and no introduction needed) Donald Dell, you are assured that:
* Parking will not be affected during construction
* Practice Courts will continue to be open for public viewing
* Ticket prices for this year will probably not go up
* No Hawk Eye on Grandstand for now, as that requires a Jumbotron for fan engagement
* No set plans to use the Washington Kastles Stadium at the Wharf in D.C., but not ruling it out
After the conference, we spoke briefly with 2011 ATP Legg Mason Tournament Director, Jeff Newman, on the long-term sustainability of the CitiOpen from the WTA perspective.
“We know what the public wants, and we feel we’re meeting that demand. We really feel we’ve added a great deal of value to the event for 2012, so hopefully over time that is going to elevate the tournament”, he said.
Will the fact that an established ATP event is already taking place on the grounds help the WTA side of the tournament?
“I think so. If you look at the demographics of tennis fans, it’s 50/50 men and women. It will clearly help us get more fans.”
I’m no Woodward, nor am I a Bernstein. I’m more like a Berenstain Bear, and these leaks from Washington are hitting me right in the head. The latest confirmation of the Legg Mason Tennis Classics metamorphosis comes not from a journalist, but from the ball person coordinator for the tournament.
In an email sent to Legg Mason tournament volunteers in the wee hours of this morning, the Ball Person Chair noted that “the site will be rearranged with Grandstand being where the north practice courts have been for years and will be constructed to fit a larger capacity than the old Grandstand court. In conjunction with this change, they will be paving over a row of the clay courts, making them hard courts, which may be where they put the practice courts. However, we won’t get the official word on the site change until it gets closer to tournament time.”
The email also promises “many new surprises that are unfolding as we get closer to the tournament.”
I, for one, can’t take any more surprises. As a Marylander and a tennis fan, this has been a rough week. The State lost the CitiOpen WTA event, lost the naming rights of a Baltimore-based corporation with an 18-year history at the DC ATP event, lost a pro training facility in Howard County, and lost a full week of tennis for fans. As one who covered both of last years pro tennis events in the DC area, it was exhausting. Now, local bloggers will get to spend an extra week poolside this summer. But it’s not about the bloggers, is it? It’s about the fans. The more I think about it, it is lost tennis opportunity. It would be better for fans to have two weeks worth of Orders of Play to catch more matches. It’s TOO MUCH VACATION!
If the event thrives, it will all be worth it. I think.
Just in case all the news fit to print hasn’t already leaked out, you can expect live tweets from @TennisEastCoast this afternoon beginning at 12:30 p.m. from the W Hotel in Washington. Also, @KelynSoong will be tweeting for Tennis Grandstand. I’m excited to see what the W folks have done to the old Hotel Washington, where my grandfather worked as a busboy on the rooftop restaurant in the 1940s. With all these leaks, though, you’d think the Watergate would have been better-suited for the event.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the US Open Member pre-sale starts in 45 minutes.
This has been a stressful US Open. Between the weather, the warped courts, the men’s mutiny, recriminations that men are treated better than women, empty Arthur Ashe, the recurring roof ramblings and all of the court changes, Tennis Maryland sincerely believes that players, fans and officials will need months of group therapy to overcome the demons of Flushing Meadows.
While we’re all in this together, it feels as if the real battles of US Open 2011 have been fought off the courts. Now that we’re in semifinal mode, let’s hope that the stellar play of the next three days erases the memories of the last week.
We’re going to pick Angeliquie Kerber to upset Samantha Stosur tonight. We said it. That will be the last upset we pick in this tournament. Three sets, two tie-breaks. Kerber is already 1-0 on Grandstand and 3-0 on Court 17 this fortnight. If the match were to be held on Ashe, we wouldn’t give her a great chance. Stosur’s already won two matches on Armstrong, so she would have been ready to play in Ashe in a comfortable setting. Venue is always important in tennis. That’s why we’re going long and predicting Angelique.
In other news, Djokovic will beat Federer and Nadal will destroy Murray this afternoon. In the least shocking prediction, Serena will do a defensive linesman’s war dance on Wozniacki’s lifeless game tonight.
1. Seat-savers in Armstrong and Grandstand: Do you know the reason that the US Open says “no reserved seating” at these courts? That’s because these seats are supposed to be open to any butt at any time. Some people leave stuff in their front-row seats on these courts and bolt around the grounds for hours at a time. Others closely guard these seats for their peers. Look, don’t tell me that seat is taken when the chair umpire has called time and told everyone to take their seats. If they aren’t here yet, then it’s ours for at least the next two games. The change is over, and if your buddy shows up two games from now, we’ll consider giving it back. Depending on big he is.
2. The US Open’s reserved seats in the ‘unreserved’ Grandstand: Sure, we know the families and coaches need a couple of seats behind the players, but the US Open blocks off hundreds, leaving the rest of us to fight the seat-savers. Yesterday, the only person who occupied one of the reserved seats was Pam Shriver, who was doing live commentary for ESPN. So, when it’s her live shot, the camera cuts to her with no one else around. Making it appear the stadium is empty to give her some elbow room does nothing to demonstrate the decent crowd that is actually at the match.
3. Fashionistas: Ok, you’re at the US Open. Maybe you’ve watched Wimbledon and you think everyone should be dressed up. Maybe you’re going to the boss’ suite after work. Then, we’ll give you a pass. We know it’s New York, but being dressed to kill in the upper promenade on an early night session is just silly.
4. The Food Lines: Unless you want to eat lunch at 10am or 4pm, plan to wait as much as 20-30 minutes from the time you pick your food line to the time you get to salt your fries and scour the grounds for another 20 minutes to find a table from the Food Court Seat-Savers.
5. The Bumpers: We don’t know how to say this. We’ve been going to the Open for well over a decade. We’ve noticed that the crowd has become increasingly (exponentially) international. We like that. It’s an international event and the eyes of the world are on Flushing Meadows. What we don’t like is the increasing number of pushy people (and their kids) who nudge and bump us as they pass without even the slightest notice that they are aware of what they are doing. We’d be surprised if most everyone who attends the US Open doesn’t know how to say “excuse me” or “sorry” in English or in body language. We know that customs vary around the world, but when you’re at the US Open, try to observe ours.
We’re not completely curmudgeony. Look for our list of our five favorite things about the early rounds coming up next.
Romain Jouan is the “hottest man in tennis”, according to the website from which we randomly plucked this pic.
. Sorry, our link-maker isn’t working, but a parental advisory is needed here. That site has some explicit content therein.
Anyway, we prefer to think of him as the most hated man in DC Tennis.
Pauvre forme, Romain. You knocked Nova’s Mitchell Frank and Denis Kudla out of US Open main draw contention in less than 24 hours last week. Your loss against Thomas Berdych in straight sets tomorrow will barely ease our pain of denying us a local player in the US Open. You’re so good that we must stop by the Grandstand and impose the powerful Capital Curse upon you during the 11am match. Or maybe we’ll just ask Akawilliam to come along to distract you with his wild cheering and bellowed proposals.