The US Open Working Experience: Why I'll be Back
I still can't believe that I AM GETTING PAID TO WATCH TENNIS at the US Open! While my original plan was to find a job covering the US Open like in did in Newport, DC and New Haven for Tweener Head. I wasn't as lucky as admittedly, I was really late when I applied. But overall, it worked out in the end as I became part of the operations team as a paid employee working the practice courts, junior tennis matches on the outer courts, and in the evenings watch all the big names. I had lots of material for the blog and learned a ton about how big tournaments are run.
This amazing opportunity did not come without a price. Because I was driving from Connecticut to Queens, my days started at 6 am and didn't end until after 9 pm. Also, the heat and humidity was unbelievable. Although I survived, I saw many causes of heat related illnesses and waves of ambulances in the early rounds going back and forth. There were times we couldn't breathe outside because the humidity was unbearable. During the first week of main draw play, there were three straight days of 90+ farenheit with over 80% humidity... I could barely stand up. Literally. I did not have a chance to sit down because where I worked (Guest Services - Field Operations) did not allow me to sit down which led to my legs feeling weak, and at one point I felt like they were going to cramp. But with some help from air conditioned break rooms and a giant ice bag to put over my head, I was able to stay cool and continue on with my day.
First Day Mix Up
So on my first day, I arrive through the gates and look up at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. One of the best stadiums I have seen for players to face off in. I walk through the grounds, get to the HR desk and wait for my instructions. After waiting 3 hours to get my uniform, I finally receive my uniform. What I noticed though was that uniform was different than most of my coworkers. I had "Supervisor" written on the back of it and it was red (the rest of my coworkers were wearing blue).
After my second day (yes it did take me two days to go back to HR), I went to my supervisor and asked him why our shirts were different. But before I could say anything, he said, "So they ran out of blue shirts?" So in my mind, I definitely did something wrong. It wasn't anything bad, it was just the fact that I signed up to be the wrong role. I was in the right place but wasn't wearing the right clothes. It was an honest mistake, although my parents were very impressed with my early "promotion." Eventually,. I had the chance to go back and get the right clothing.
I Get the Chaos
One of the hardest parts about this job was staying patient. For example, at the practice courts fans were everywhere. Nobody knew where to go. All seats were general admission with people competing for the best ones. I answered the same questions over-and-over. And to make things more interesting the players didn't always come to the practice area at the posted times. I even had to tell my parents that they couldn't reserve seats -- that one cost me.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the frenetic activity. I thrive in the chaos. It's great to see so many people enthusiastic about tennis. But come on people, get to know how to view these matches. No, you can't save seats. Open admission doesn't mean one person gets there early and saves the front row for all their friends and family who might come. Don't move around in the middle of points. You distract the players and the fans. I know this is a loud and rowdy crowd, but I saw many people just talking loudly with each other. Yes, people can see and hear you.
But after doing this type of job, I understand the frustration that fans feel as well as why we have to be so strict. We have to be organized and fair to every person that wants to watch tennis, including ourselves. As a tennis fan, I had a hard time being observant about the crowds and watching tennis. I had Denis Shapovalov's 5 set thriller against Seppi on my court and it lasted 4 hours! Of course I wanted to watch the match and I had the opportunity to do that, but I had a line of 20 people asking questions to come up and watch. I had to do my job -- what happened to me as I used to be the one irritating someone working at these events.
Overall, I get the chaos and the wave of fans that ultimately want to watch tennis. I understand that everyone has paid for a ticket to watch these players. I just want the fans to respect the game and the people who work there even more.
News Flash! US Open Tennis Balls are different for men and women
Who knew? I've been playing tennis in tournaments since I was 8 and gone to many major tournaments, but this never came up. I found this out by accident as I happened to be holding red and black lettered tennis plays, and the red one was definitely lighter. When I asked someone about this they looked at me and said, well the red lettered ones are for women and the black lettered ones are for men (like I was the only idiot who didn't know this). I quickly reached out to Wilson on Twitter and they confirmed that there is a difference of the felt, but the size, shape and structure are the same. (put tweet in quotes here)
So is Wilson saying there is a difference or not? I think they just contradicted themselves in the tweet they sent me.
I started to then ask myself, I wonder if they do this in other tournaments too? And apparently, they do! At the Citi Open, they use the Penn ATP men’s or Women’s Penn indoor red letter balls. It has something to do with making the matches go faster depending if it is for men or women.
I loved working for the US Open. I think this is a great opportunity for anyone that wants to get involved in the tennis world. Each team in each department is warm, welcoming and very helpful for newcomers, like myself, to fit in with the rest of the group. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone who loves the game and meet people who love the game just as much as I do.