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To acquire wisdom, one must observe

A day at the US Open

Have you ever wanted to go to an amusement park, but it is centered around tennis matches? Well, that is the best way to describe my experience of going to the first day of the US Open. It was a day full of chaos, but it was the good kind of chaos. I have been to a tennis tournament before, the Indian Wells Masters 1000 in 2014. However, this tournament was a lot bigger than that, in terms of the size of the grounds, the amount of matches and the prestige. I was there for around 12 hours and I still wish I could have spent more time there. While I am speaking as a tennis fan, this tournament would be exciting even if you are not that into tennis. You will get caught up in the moment and learn so much. I feel lucky that I was able to go. I will hold on to the memories, and the pictures, forever.

My day began when I woke up at the crack of dawn, otherwise known as 9 a.m. As people living in Manhattan, my parents and I took the train about 40 minutes to Flushing Meadows in Queens, which is where the US Open is held. There were a lot of people that were squished onto the train with us who had the same goal. Once we got off, we could go right to the grounds to check our tickets. Once we were checked in, we were at the tournament. When it comes to most other sports, there may be multiple games on at once, but each complex or arena has one game going on at once, with other games being miles away. That is not the case at tennis tournaments. The matches started at 11 a.m., and there always seemed to be at least ten or so matches on at once. Like I said, this was like an amusement park. Since this was the first round, this day was probably one of the busiest days, along with the second day of the first round. Other than the main stadium, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, your tickets for the day will allow you to go to any court you want at any time you want. Also, in my opinion, the outside courts are a lot more fun than the bigger stadiums. It gives a more personal experience and you get a better angle. That is what makes watching these matches in person so exciting.

First up, my parents and I decided to go to Court 10 to see American Ben Shelton against Argentinian Pedro Cachin. We chose to see this match first as we are all big fans of Shelton. He is an American up and comer who has shown a lot of promise this year and has a fun personality. Since these courts don’t have specific tickets, they fill up early. We had to wait a bit before we could get inside the court. They also only let people in on every other game, so it takes a while. Soon enough, right after the first set, we got in. We were a couple of rows up, but we still had a great view of the action. After being in the crowd for a bit, it was clear that the crowd was also rooting for Shelton, which was not surprising. At most matches where an American is playing, the crowd will root for an American, likely due to the home court vibes, which can apply to tennis fans and non-tennis fans. Not to spoil the rest of my article, but I would say that this was the liveliest match of the day. While Shelton lost the first set, he started playing better for the rest of the match and the crowd was absolutely into it, cheering loudly after every point he made. He was a lot of fun to watch, and he had fun egging on the crowd in a positive way. After four sets in total, Shelton swiftly won and the crowd erupted in cheers. Then came autograph time. After every match, the winning player, and occasionally the losing player as well, will give autographs to fans, either on paper or on tennis balls. You may even get a selfie if you are lucky. I had my program for the day and ran over to where Shelton was leaving. It took a lot of non-creepy chasing, but I eventually got my signature on the back of the program. This was a great early mark to a fun day.

After the Shelton match, my parents and I decided to get lunch. There was a food court area filled with long lines, so getting lunch was not quick. I enjoyed my brisket sandwich and was ready to get back into the action. This is where my parents and I separated, as we had different matches we had to see. I did not see them again until we left for the day. I headed off to Court 11 to see Spanish Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina against American Marcos Giron. While Giron was an American, I was rooting for Davidovich-Fokina, who is from Spain. I have always liked his energy and playing style, so I wanted him to win. I arrived at this match around the middle, as it started while I was eating. This time, instead of waiting for seats, I sat at the benches that face the court, where there is less room and a not as good angle, but it is quicker. This was a pretty straightforward match for the Spaniard, and Davidovich-Fokina won the match pretty easily. Giron was one of the few losing players who signed autographs, and I was happy to get his signature. Then Davidovich-Fokina came out of the court, and I fortunately got his autograph too, which was a little harder. Here’s a tip for getting noticed by a tennis player at a tennis tournament: be a small child. From my observations, the children asking for autographs usually get noticed first, as the players always want to help out the children. Nevertheless, my goals were accomplished.

There were some matches that I was not able to catch until they were almost ending, so I went to them to make sure I got my autograph. After Davidovich-Fokina’s match. I went to see Argentinian Juan-Manuel Cerundolo against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka. I knew that they were in the last game as they went over, but as much as I wished I was there earlier, I had to at least be there to get my autograph from Cerundolo. While his brother, Francisco Cerundolo, is currently a higher ranked player, I have always liked Juan-Manuel’s spirit as I see him as a part of the next generation of great players. I got there just in time, and not only did I get a signature from the winner, I also got a selfie, which I treasure. I wish I got to see him play, but this is absolutely the next-best, if not slightly better, thing.

Another fun thing about tennis tournaments is that you are not only able to watch the matches. You can also watch them practice. Ahead of time, you can look at the practice schedule to see which small courts they may be practicing with, either with their team or with another player. Over at Court 16, I was able to see two of my favorite players practice: Italian Jannik Sinner and Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis. Sinner is new on the scene and has already made quite the splash. I have been rooting for him since day one and I could not wait to be up close. Kokkinakis has been around for a while, and even though he has not been that high ranked historically, he has a fun personality, great talent, and a lot of skill. Even though this was a practice match, a lot of people were there, as these are two fun players. There’s never anything flashy happening in a practice match, as they should not try to strain themselves before an actual match. It is very simple back and forth hitting. There is not much cheering, but it is still fun to watch. I even got a selfie with Sinner’s coach Darren Cahill, a former player and popular tennis analyst and announcer for ESPN. After some practicing, Kokkinakis left first, and the crowds were ready for his autograph. I luckily got one, but it was not easy and caused a bit of light pushing. However, this was nothing compared to when Sinner left half an hour later. It looked like someone could have gotten trampled. The security protects all the players from these crowds, and I thank them for their services. Again, I feel lucky I got an autograph from him that I will cherish, as he had to quickly run off. Literally, there were so many people that he had to break out into a light jog to get away from everyone. It goes to show that there can be some intensity even when some is just practicing.

After the practice match, I went back over to the benches on Court 11 to watch American Sebastian Korda play Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. Going back to the American choice, I was rooting for Korda. He’s always had a lot of great skill and a lot of focus, and I know he will get even better one day. Fun fact, his dad was also a tennis player, Petr Korda, who even won a Grand Slam before. I joined this match early in the third set, after each of the players took an earlier set. This was one of the more intense matches that I went to. It looked like either of them could have won at many different points of the match. They both looked determined to win. Even though the crowd was mostly on Korda’s side, every so often I heard chants of “Let’s Go Marton” from Hungarians rooting for their countryman. Earlier, I thought I might leave this match earlier to walk around, but my eyes were glued to this match of these hard-hitters. Unfortunately, the match did not go the way I was hoping and Fucsovics took the win in the fifth set. He also took his shirt off when he won, demonstrating that he is one of the most ripped players on the tour, which is neither here nor there. I could not get an autograph from Korda, as he looked pretty sad about the whole thing. As I have nothing against Fucsovics, I got an autograph from him as he was walking. By this point, the back of my program was getting filled up, and even though not every match turned out the way that I was hoping, I was still having a fun time.

After Korda, I did a lot of walking around. The grounds where the US Open is held are pretty big, so there is a lot to see. I went over to the practice courts for a bit and watched some players through some fences. I also got a picture with newcomer Ethan Quinn, this year’s NCAA Singles Champion, who was just hanging around outside of the practice courts. He may have lost earlier that day to Bernabe Zapata Miralles, but I think that he could go far and I look forward to where his career goes. After walking around for a bit, I decided to watch Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime play American Mackenzie McDonald. I have been a fan of Auger-Aliassime for a long time now, and even though he has been in a bit of a slump lately, I will always root for him. In most other matches, I would have rooted for McDonald, as I like watching him play a lot, but against Auger-Aliassime, I had to hold on to my loyalties. The crowd seemed pretty divided, which makes sense since Canada is not too far from this tournament. I came to this match towards the end of the second set on the benches. It seemed back and forth for a bit, as they are both very talented players. However, as the match got deep into the second match, it was clear which way it was going. McDonald ended up getting the win over Auger-Aliassime after four sets. Even though Auger-Aliassime was the higher ranked and the seeded one, this outcome was not too surprising given the outcomes of some of their recent matches. Auger-Aliassime left the match pretty quickly, but McDonald was staying around with the fans. To be clear, I am not abandoning my loyalties, but I can’t deny my appreciation for McDonald and his talent. I got his signature on my program, and I was even able to get a selfie with him as well. By this point, it was pretty dark out, but my constant smiles were shining bright.

It was getting late out, and there were only a few matches left. I used this time to get some more autographs and selfies from players whose careers I have been interested in. After Auger-Aliassime’s match, I went over to Gaston’s match, which was right in the next court so I barely had to walk. While he has had some controversial moments, I think he seems like a pretty interesting player. There were not that many people there, so I quickly got an autograph and a selfie. Then I went over to see the end of Australian Alexei Popyrin against Swiss Dominic Stricker. I have been a fan of Popyrin and his playing for a while and I think he has a lot of great potential for the future. However, Stricker took the win in an upset. I don’t know as much about Stricker, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen of the newcomer and I want to see a lot more of him. I got his autograph and a selfie at the end as he made his way through everyone. Finally, I went over to the end of the battle of the French, Benjamin Bonzi against Quentin Halys. They are fairly similar players, with Bonzi having a bit more personality and talent, which is probably why he got the win. Halys was nice to autograph and give selfies to people by the exit, which is always nice to see then. Bonzi came out and took the time to meet with everyone. After this, pretty much all of the matches that I was interested in were done. So this is when I met back up with my parents, who also had a great day. Together, they saw many matches throughout the day, such as Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Milos Raonic, Casper Ruud vs Emilio Nava, Brandon Nakashima vs Laslo Djere and more. After a dinner of hot dogs and ice cream at the food court, we took the train back and arrived home at around midnight. A day at the US Open is definitely a full day.

So would I go to the US Open again? If you have been reading this article at all, you can probably tell that my answer is absolutely a yes. As someone who has been a tennis fan for several years now, I had an amazing time at the US Open, as it is a thrilling time. I got to see some of my favorite players in person, watch exciting matches, get some autographs, and a lot more. I was constantly doing something, which is impressive for an experience that lasted at least 12 hours. There were hundreds of people there who I could tell were also having an exciting time, as I could always hear some cheering happening. After going, it’s hard to believe that there are two weeks of this tournament. Even though I went on one of the busier days, I only saw a small fraction of it all. I would have wanted to go to more days of the tournament if I didn’t have to go back to school. I hope I get the chance to go back again. Now, I feel like when I watch the rest of the tournament, or possibly even future tournaments, I am going to think about seeing matches and meeting players in person. So if you ever get the chance to go to the US Open, or any big tennis tournament, take that chance. You will not regret it.

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