Newspaper article International New York Times

Tips on How to Watch the Best Live Tennis

Newspaper article International New York Times

Tips on How to Watch the Best Live Tennis

Article excerpt

With the U.S. Open underway, the sports journalist Louisa Thomas shares her pointers.


"With live tennis, the closer you can get, the better."

Louisa Thomas should know. Before she started covering the United States Open for the website Grantland, she watched from the nosebleed seats. "The closer you are," she said, "the more you see the different speeds, the different ways of hitting the ball, the different spins, the more the game becomes this multidimensional, thrilling, breathtaking sport."

Getting up close at the Open, though, requires some strategy. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, where the tournament takes place through Monday, is a complex with two stadiums, 12 courts and five practice courts, and tickets can be expensive.

Ms. Thomas recently shared some tips. Following are edited excerpts.

Q. How can you get close to the action at the open without a pricey ticket?

A.Instead of getting a ticket -- a very expensive ticket, I might add -- to the two main stadiums, Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong, I recommend getting a grounds pass, which gives you access to all of the other courts. That includes access to the main practice courts, where you can see top players warming up, sometimes hitting together. They can get really competitive, even for a practice set. There's a lot of good feeling afterward, though. A lot of hugs and pictures taken and autographs. It's a convivial vibe. But get there early. If Djokovic is going to practice, you have to get there early.

I also love going early in the tournament and watching matches on some of the more intimate courts. For some of these players, it's the chance to make their career, it's one of the biggest moments of their lives, and they play like it.

Q. Skip Arthur Ashe altogether then? …

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