by Tom Lally
For any tennis fans out there, you know that Labor Day is not just the unofficial end of summer, it’s also the middle weekend of the US Open. I don’t play much tennis anymore – as with so many other things as I’ve gotten older, finding the time is tougher and tougher – but I did play for many years when I was younger. In fact, my first job as a teenager was teaching at a summer camp run by my long-time coach. But I have followed things sporadically since then, so I jumped at the chance a few months ago when my father asked if I wanted to go with him to the US Open this year. Like golf, tennis has many tournaments throughout the year, but four of them – collectively known as the Grand Slam tournaments – stand above the rest. They attract the best players, pay the highest prize money, and carry the most prestige. They are played in major cities all over the world: Melbourne (Australian Open), Paris (French Open), London (Wimbledon) and New York City (US Open).
We went down on Sunday and came back Wednesday. We had grounds passes on Monday, which allow for general admission into every court (except Arthur Ashe stadium) for the entire day. And the whole day is exactly what we did, arriving when the gates opened first thing in the morning and staying until about 10 PM when the last match had finished. Tuesday we had tickets for the night session at Arthur Ashe, which is the largest tennis court in the world and seats over 23,000. One of the matches we saw that night featured current world #3 Roger Federer. Roger is my favorite player and also widely considered to be the best ever, having won 19 (and counting) grand slam tournaments in his remarkably long career. The next closest is 16 for Rafael Nadal, who actually played on that same court just a few hours earlier, and ended up winning the US Open this year. It was very lucky that we saw Roger, because when you buy tickets you get them for a particular day or session, and you have no idea who will be playing until that day’s schedule is announced just a few days prior. He didn’t play his best tennis, as his best of five set match went the distance, but that just meant we got to watch him play even more.
With just a couple of days spent at the tournament, we had a little time to take in some other New York City sites. The Statue of Liberty was a little underwhelming but Ellis Island – the same ferry loop brings you to both – was surprisingly robust and really fascinating. It was really cool to stand in the main hall and imagine my Irish ancestors passing through that very same room so many years ago. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum were very somber, but incredible. The only hiccup was my own fault – I neglected to alert my bank that I was travelling, and they declined my credit card. But I quickly resolved that and had no other issues. Well, other than getting lost a couple of times, but that’s inevitable for me, and I never ended up too far off course. Overall it was a fantastic trip and I’d recommend the US Open to anyone, because I think even if you don’t love tennis, seeing it live with the best players in the world is a really cool experience and makes you appreciate just how good, fast, and talented they are.
The author of this article is Tom Lally, Wealth Manager Assistant at US Wealth Management.