Other than league play, the greatest benefit of being a USTA member is the ability to purchase US Open tickets before they go on sale to the public. But don’t fool yourself. You’re not really competing against the general public. You’re competing against your fellow members in a chance to snap up the most-coveted tickets in all of American tennis.
The pre-sale begins in just twelve days, on 9:00 am EDT Tuesday, April 24, 2012 and ends Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Forget the end date. You will want to purchase on the very first day and maybe in the first five minutes.
Fans may remember the Tennis East Coast editorial about Arthur Ashe last year. Although I’m not espousing that you ever buy tickets in the Ashe upper promenade, how else are you getting into the men’s or women’s final?
What not to buy: Grounds passes and early round sessions generally do not sell out, and never during a member pre-sale. If you wait until July or August, you can score the same seats to the early rounds for less online. You can even get court side Armstrong box seats for less than the face value of a reserved (upper) seat in that stadium. Although the night session at Ashe is not a particularly good value in terms of time or money for a die-hard fan, the USTA’s buy-one-get-one-free deals may make it worth your consideration.
Here are the top five tickets to purchase quickly at presale:
1. Men’s Final: It has been a hot ticket for a long time, but in the last two years, you can’t find a pair on Ticketmaster after the member pre-sale. In fact, you might miss out if you don’t buy within the first half-hour.
2. Women’s final: Although you may still find a pair a couple of days into the pre-sale, don’t expect them available to the general public on Ticketmaster.
3. Men’s semis: Held on the same Saturday as the women’s final, availability for these tickets will also not survive the pre-sale.
4. Super Saturday/Labor Day weekend: The hierarchy goes like this–Saturday and Sunday are hot, hot, hot and Monday usually has more availability.
5. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day: Since you think you already knew everything I’ve told you above, I’ve saved the best for last. With Courtside Ashe tickets going for $800 and up, this is the sweetest pre-sale secret of all. For $40, you get a Courtside box seat for Kids’ Day, with up-close views of music and exhibition tennis. While you can purchase a reasonable ticket upstairs to Kids’ Day well into August, the courtside tickets are open to all and sell out within an hour. No little ones? No worries. There’s no rule that you need to bring a child to the event. With these seats, even a kid at heart will enjoy the view.
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.