Thursday, August 29, 2013

You have Open questions, I have Open answers

It has been a hectic first four days in Queens for The Outer Courts, mainly because everyone in the media center, including the people in charge, seem to hate us. (Hate is a strong word, we'll go with loathe. They loathe us.) Matt will go a little more in depth with the reasons behind the troubled relationship in another post, but to put it briefly, our access is limited because we were late additions to the party. Because we applied for credentials so late in the process, we're not even allowed to touch the free magazines or drink the free happy hour cocktails. Don't get me started on that one, though.

But back to the matter at hand. We're here and you have questions, as you should. And like any good tennis blogger with an ear to the ground and a laptop with complimentary WiFi, I will happily answer those questions. We all need to be on the same page if we're going to enjoy the Open, so let's get to it. May the educating commence.

What is the US Open?

If at any point you've asked yourself this question, I would like to ask you why you're on this website and who sent you.

The US Open, rookie, is the fourth and final Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year. It was first held in 1881 as the U.S. National Championship and the balls are still bouncing in 2013, though much faster these days. The tournament switched to acrylic hard court surfaces in 1978 after almost a century's worth of matches on grass and a brief, three-year trial run on clay.

Where is it played?

The US Open is held at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in New York City, right across the tracks from the Mets' new baseball stadium in Queens. The 33-court tennis facility features three stadium-style courts: Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 22,547-seat primary venue; Louis Armstrong Stadium, the old main stadium; and Court 17, nicknamed "The Pit" because it's below ground level.

Arthur Ashe Stadium came with a $254 million price tag when it was constructed in 1997, in case you're wondering, and a new $550 million renovation of the tennis center is in its early stages.

Is the Billie Jean King Tennis Center close to that big globe with the fountains?

Yes, you are correct.

The Unisphere, as it's known to those who call it that, sits right outside the South Gate in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It's a 12-story high, spherical stainless steel representation of the Earth. It was the theme symbol of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

If you're having trouble imagining the gigantic replica of the world, you can Google it or check it out at the 2:23 mark in the "Mo Money, Mo Problems" music video.

How much will I get paid if I win?

If you emerge from the draw victorious, assuming you made the draw, not only would Hell have already frozen over, but you would receive a $2,600,000 paycheck.

But remember, the more money you come across, the more problems you see.

Who won last year?

Andy Murray won the men's singles tournament while Serena Williams won the women's and the Bryan Brothers hoisted the doubles trophy.

Do the Bryan Brothers ever lose?

No, I don't think they do. They're like the '96 Bulls.

Who invited Lenny Kravitz?

The tournament directors, I assume. Kravitz performed at the opening ceremonies Monday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium. I hear it was quite the spectacle.

How expensive is the merchandise?

Couldn't tell ya. I'm currently undergoing souvenir rehabilitation after my personal shopping spree in Indian Wells earlier this year. I don't know why I thought I needed t-shirts, windbreakers, an umbrella, three hats, a pair of shoes, tennis balls, sunglasses, flip-flops, a foam cowboy hat, a mousepad, and a wax figurine of Juan Martin Del Potro arm-wrestling a bear, but I'm still paying off the credit card(s).

I want to go one year.

You absolutely should. I'm having a blast and we're only getting started. The players give it their all, there is so much to do when you're not watching tennis, and it's in the greatest city in the world. The Open should be a bucket list sporting event for everyone.

Think how much fun you'd be having if they'd invite you to media happy hour.

Shut up. That's not funny.