A Dutch friend recently posted on Facebook that he is continually surprised by the petite amount of vacation time we Americans are allotted and astonished that many don’t even take what they’ve been given. I assured him that I have plans percolating that would require 14 months’ of vacation. This is a serious problem. For my employer. Not for me.
I would love to see each of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments including the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon. But, given vacation limitations, I wasn’t able to get to them in 2013. So I indulged in my annual expedition to the US Open – one of the perks of living within a stone’s throw of NYC. Flushing Meadows certainly isn’t Paris, but the Open is the world’s largest annual sporting event.
Over 700,000 fans pass through the gates of the Billie Jean King USTA Tennis Center to mourn summer’s end and enjoy a terrific sporting event. There’s no better opportunity to see world-class athletes perform up close and personal; many of the courts are small with limited seating. During the early days of the tournament, you can get a grounds pass for under $70 and spend the day moving from match to match at all but Arthur Ashe Stadium (The early round Ashe matches are usually blowouts between a top seed and an unranked opponent.). I logged 9 hours last Friday, leaving exhausted, sunburned and happier than Serena after a lopsided win.
Some years you luck into a 5-set thriller. Sandwiched together with your fellow fans because of the intimate bleacher seating, you’ll catch excited whispers between points. Swirls of German, French, Italian, Spanish fill the air like the Tower of Babel. The setting’s elegant. The crowd? Extremely well-heeled. Your bleacher-mate may have arrived by limo and is sipping a $24 glass of Moët & Chandon. You took the #7 subway. But you share a common tongue because, at the Open, a great shot’s a great shot. Game. Set. Match.