Re: How to perfect your tournament

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Rosie, me and James are ready for play

Dear US Open,

First of all can I compliment you on a wonderful bout of weather. I very much appreciated a perfect day in the sunshine watching incredible tennis on my “no-labour” Labor Day Monday. However, it has come to my attention that there are some key issues that should be addressed if you, as a tournament, ever wish to compete for the title of “Greatest tennis tournament on Earth”. Currently the undisputed holder of this title is Wimbledon, but I believe with a bit of hard work and some pivotal alterations on how the fortnight is run, you could certainly have a bite of the cherry, so to speak.

Firstly, I was delighted to secure a ground pass for the second Monday and further delighted by the fact that your second grandstand court (and third for that matter) were un-ticketed. Wimbledon surely does not offer such a treat and for that you must be commended. However, whether it be the layout of the court or the lack of compassion of the staff it seems that your control over the “guests” was lacking.

For one, following a decade of Wimbledon visits I have come to know and love the court attendants. They are arguably the most generous and tennis-loving of all sporting event ushers and will often allow you to sneak court side for an exciting close up of your favourite player. This is especially true of an evening when the crowds are waning and seats sit empty. However, it seems that your priority is a one of capital and so your staff appear adamant that noone should occupy a seat for which they have not dished out the appropriate funds. Oh no, US Open, this will not do. Despite the upper rungs bursting at the seams on Louis Armstrong a few days ago, the lower tiers were all but deserted. An infuriating situation, you can imagine, for the back row and the 2 hour queues waiting to see a glimpse of Janko Tipsarevic and the heavenly Juan Carlos Ferrero (of whom I have been a fan since my early years as a miniature tennis player). In fact, on relaying my overall satisfactory day to my inquisitive mother, she commented that the Eurosport coverage implied noone seemed to be watching the game and she was beginning to wonder what I was doing with my ground pass. I assured her that the stadium was packed but since the cameras only highlighted the lower loges it appeared to the rest of the world that your crowds were sparse, which is a poor show for any major tournament.

Nevertheless, by the time Djokovic was warming up, those “posh” seats seemed to be filling up. But over 3 hours too late. If you didn’t arrive for half 10 it would have been more than soul destroying, when you finally saw the televised highlights, to discover your motionless line in front of a Ben and Jerry’s Garcia Cherry ice cream stand was technically not the only option for your grounds passes!

I guess that your corporate sponsors require some special treatment but wouldn’t it be beneficial to the game as a whole and maybe in an effort to inspire your younger players, that you were a little more understanding to the back row and allowed them a couple of games here and there, particularly at the end of the day when many have given up and are quite clearly tucked up in bed?

And one further point. I am well aware that tennis is not one of your major sports. Indeed it does not compete with the likes of basketball, baseball and “football”, but that should not discount the specific etiquette of this game. Two main issues spring to mind here. One, spectators should not be wandering around aimlessly with their hotdogs in between points. The change of ends is the only appropriate time to relocate yourself, for obvious reasons such as distracting the serving player and generally during a rally. Two, if a ball goes into the stand, it is not proper to PUT IT IN YOUR POCKET. I noticed this on a number of occasions and was then personally embarrassed for you, the tournament, when it fell upon the player, the dreamy Juan Carlos Ferrero, to request that the ball be returned to the court. Other issues include general background noise kept to a minimum, no heckling during points etc.

I feel that these crowd education issues could surely be remedied with a simple announcement, a leaflet accompanying the ticket (see Wimbledon) to outline the key rules of play for the mob. This might cost a little extra but with all those sponsors I can’t imagine this would be an impossible ask!? However, the simple announcement at the beginning of the match by the umpire or a similar official would be free and therefore a more favourable solution?

So, in conclusion, apart from the sunburnt nose I am now dealing with, I greatly enjoyed my 9 hours on Louis Armstrong court. Unable to leave for fear of losing my seat and surviving solely on Ben and Jerry’s and water was truly a once in a lifetime experience, so for that I thank you. But, if you could please consider the points raised above I would be most grateful. I look forward to the finals this weekend and wish you all the best in finishing your tournament without further rain delays.

Yours sincerely,

Beth A.

Ice cream sustenance

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