The Adventure Starts Here: A Day at the US Open | AKA, the day we met Jimmy Connors...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Day at the US Open | AKA, the day we met Jimmy Connors...

Last Friday, Chris and I had a little day date just the two of us.  It was special enough to have a day to ourselves, but it was even better since we got to spend it watching some amazing tennis at the US Open.  While I wouldn't describe myself as a sports fan, tennis is something I really enjoy to watch (on TV and in person).  My love of the US Open began in 2007 when my dad and I went to our first day session.  It was the summer after my first year working, and I decided to splurge and get tickets for my dad and I to go as a Father's Day gift.  We went every year after that (and my dad took over buying the tickets), sometimes bringing my brothers, my mom, aunt & uncle one year, and finally Chris (after we met in 2009).  My dad and I even made it to the Men's Final in 2010!  You can read about our 2013 experience here.  We did miss a few years though... in 2012 when I was very pregnant (and on bedrest) with Noah, and the last two years when we thought it was too much to be away from Noah for that long of a day.  But this year, my parents so generously offered to send me and Chris while they watched Noah.  While we absolutely love doing things as a family, it was a really nice treat to go off on our own, doing something that we really loved doing pre-Noah.      

^^^ It's sort of a tradition to take a photo before we leave, holding our tickets.  
This was the first year we didn't leave from my parents' house!  

The US Open is held in Flushing, NY and runs for the two weeks surrounding Labor Day Weekend (8/29-9/11 this year).  Even though it's still early in the tournament, we prefer going to day sessions during the first week.  Our philosophy is that we want to see as much tennis as we can.  While there are tons of options for tickets (at all price points), we opt to purchase tickets for Arthur Ashe Stadium (the main court). This gives you an assigned seat there and lets you wander the grounds and grab a seat at any of the other courts.  And during the first week, there are TONS of matches going on!  So while you might not see two highly ranked players playing each other, you will see plenty of big names and have more options on what to watch.  

^^^ while we opt to drive, you can easily take the train or subway directly to the stadium.  We were very excited for the new retractable roof that was just added to Arthur Ashe stadium.  Such a relief to not have to worry about rain!  

We made really good time driving, and arrived a good hour before the first match was scheduled to start.  Chris immediately checked out the practice schedule on the US Open app and we headed straight over when we found out Serena and Venus Williams were currently practicing!  This wasn't the first time we've headed over to the practice courts, but it was the first time that they had bleachers (built sometime since 2013) so the fans could watch.  We easily found two seats together and not only got to see Serena and Venus, but also Jack Sock and Marin Cilic, who we planned to watch play later in the day.  

^^^ Jack Sock
^^^ Marin Cilic
^^^ Serena (walking) and Venus (sitting)

We then made a stop at the souvenir stand before heading to our seats in Arthur Ashe.  We've always bought tickets in the Loge section (the middle section) near the net.  In the past, we've always been on the side without the umpire's chair.  While the view is "better", the sun is shining directly in your face for most of the day and it can get pretty hot.  So this year we decided to switch it up and get the same section, just on the total opposite side of the stadium.  While the sun was shining on us for the first 20 or so minutes, with the help of our position and the new roof (that was retracted), we were in the shade the entire time.  Even with the umpire's chair on our side of the stadium, it was totally worth it to be in the shade!!! 

And while this will only matter (and make sense) to people who've already been, the seating was totally redone (I'm guessing when they added the roof?).  In the past, seats were organized in 6 seat sections (2 rows of 3 seats).  So if you were buying Row A, seats 3 & 4 (like I did for my dad the first year), you wouldn't actually be sitting next to each other, rather one of you would be in the front row and the other directly behind you.  And since most people buys seats in even numbers, this can get rather annoying.  Not only that, but if you aren't aware of this and buy row C thinking you are third row, you may be disappointed when you are in the 5th or 6th row.  But this is now fixed and the rows are now long and labeled normally.  And while this will probably bore many of you, Chris and I talked about this at length and I was snapping photos and videos of the seats to send my dad.  

^^^ the new grandstand looked so cool!  We were hoping to make it over there but it looked so crowded.  Instead, we opted to go to the Louis Armstrong stadium which will be knocked down at the end of the tournament and replaced with a larger stadium that will also have a retractable roof.  
^^^ Caroline Wozniacki, who ended up beating Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6,1

We watched Wozniacki play Niculescu in the first match.  When we realized it wasn't going to be a tight match, we opted to head over to the Louis Armstrong stadium.  We wanted to see Jack Sock play Marin Cilic and since most of the seats there are first come first serve, we figured it would be best to get there early to ensure a good seat.  By going over early, we were also able to watch the end of a surprisingly tight women's match where Vinci ended up winning (6-0 | 5-7 | 6-3).  While we've gone on much hotter days, the heat was starting to get to me when sitting in direct sun (I've been affected by the sun and heat a lot more ever since my experience at the Little League World Series).  I made sure to drink constantly and cool off with a fan and some Ben & Jerry's.  While I wouldn't have been able to stay there all day, the random breezes helped a lot until we decided to head back to our seats in the shade.  

^^^ It was fun to cheer on Jack Sock (USA) and watch him beat Marin Cilic (who won in 2014 and was higher ranked).  

Then it was back to Arthur Ashe to watch Djokovic play.  We hadn't expected to be back in time to watch the end of the Madison Keys (USA) match.  Chris and I definitely didn't expect this match to be so close, so it was crazy to come back at the beginning of the third set and see that Madison (ranked 8th) might not win!   It was really exciting to see the crowd behind her and watch her fight back and win!  

^^^ so glad we switched our seats this year, otherwise we would have been in that super sunny section!  
^^^ Naomi Osaka
^^^ Madison Keys
^^^Madison Keys ended up winning 7-5 | 4-6 | 7-6(3)

Besides watching the tennis, one of my favorite things is the signature drink they serve each year.  I think it was back in 2009 when I tried their Pimm's Cup for the first time and loved it.  This year, it was the Honey Deuce (vodka, lemonade, and honey dew).  If they weren't so darn expensive ($15 each), I totally would have had another!  

We were so excited when the Djokovic match began.  While we had a feeling he would win (and probably easily), we weren't expecting for the match to end in 30 minutes because the other player (Mikhail Youzhny) was injured.

This was the last day match in Arthur Ashe, and now there was nothing left on the schedule until the night session.  We all started filing out at the same time, leaving a lot of people trying to find other tennis matches to watch around the grounds. We instead opted to head back to the practice courts, grab some dinner, and call it a day.  We lucked out on the practice courts and got to see Nadal, Martina Hingis, and new comer Catherine Bellis (USA).  It was crazy to see Hingis (35) playing next to Bellis, who is only 17!  Chris and I (and the people sitting next to us) couldn't get over how young she was.  Can you imagine spending the summer between your Junior and Senior year of high school playing in the US Open!?!

^^^ Catherine Bellis (17) lost later that night.  But at least she can say she played in Arthur Ashe at night... how cool!
^^^ It was funny to watch the women swoon over Nadal as he walked by.  One even said that her day was now made ;)

By this time, we were hungry and wanted to find a place to sit and eat.  While there are lots of concession stands, it's not always the easiest to find an open table.  So we instead opted to go to the Heineken Bar and wait 15 minutes for a table.  I am so glad we did, because not only did we get a table in the shade and overlooking the grounds, but we just so happened to be seated next to Jimmy Connors!

Meeting Jimmy Connors was actually pretty funny.  As we were sitting here, I could see him and his daughter chatting and taking selfies, while Chris could only hear the conversation.  I have to admit that I didn't recognize him at first and even asked Chris if this guy was hitting on her lol.  Chris turned around a few times and suspected it was him, but we kept saying it couldn't be cause why wouldn't he be in a VIP bar?  But then Chris spotted the woman's (his daughter) badge around her neck and it said "Aubree Connors" and we knew it was him.  Chris turned around and said hi and asked for a photo.  Jimmy Connors was so nice... I got one of Chris with him and then a stranger offered to take a photo of the three of us.  The best was when the guy taking the photo asked "who is he?" and Jimmy responded "Jay-Z".  After that, 2 more people came over to say hi and ask for a photo and he was so nice to both of them.  I'm impressed that more people didn't go over and bother him and that Jimmy even went up to the bar himself to get refills for him and his daughter.  Makes me wonder if you went to a night session if you might actually see a celebrity walking around.  I guess I always assumed they were escorted right to their seats and only went to VIP sections.  

We had an absolutely amazing day of tennis, even considering Djokovic's match ending early.  I like to think that if that didn't happen, we would never have met Jimmy Connors... and Chris said that was his "favorite part of the day".  Not sure if we can top that if we go back next year!  

Are you a tennis fan?  Have you ever met someone famous?

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  1. How awesome! My Mom & I are big tennis fans, too! I love that Chris put his arm right around Jimmy. That's great!

  2. So fun! I absolutely love this tradition of yours. I'm not a tennis fan but I can totally imagine your excitement.

  3. That's really cool. I know someone else who went this year but I never saw such good photos from the event! And cool that you met someone famous too!

  4. Gah, what an awesome day date! And that cocktail looks & sounds amazing!

  5. Wow, that is so super cool to attend that. What a great tradition. That is something that I would love to attend in my life. Thanks for sharing. I love your super pictures.

  6. I loved seeing the photos from this day! It looks like you two had the best day. You two are adorable!! While I am not a big Tennis fan, I do know who Venus and Serena are! So cool that you were able to see them. I am impressed with the photos you got, friend! They are so incredibly good. (not surprised, just impressed!!!) The Honey Deuce sounds delicious, but you’re right – expensive!! So cool that you got to meet a celebrity!!

  7. Wow!!! So awesome that you and Chris got to have a day date and go to the US Open! It looks amazing and your photos are gorgeous! I'm not a huge tennis fan so I don't really know who any of those people are (except Serena and Venus) but that's so cool that you got to see them play in person!

  8. You got some really great photos. Those are so clear. Seriously impressive, especially from the distance you were away. You could be a pro tennis photographer! I must admit that I had to Google Jimmy Connors.


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