My husband, Rob, said, “I've made a decision. We're going to the US Open this year.”
“You've said that before,” I stated. “We've been trying to go for years. I'd love to go. But why now?”
“We'd better go while we can still walk,” said Rob. I agreed.
The US Open Tennis Tournament started on Aug. 28 and ended Sept. 10. In July the arrangements were made for the hotel near Times Square and the airline reservations out of Fayetteville were confirmed to LaGuardia in New York. It was up to me to get the tickets for the event. Rob wanted reserved seating at Arthur Ashe Stadium for one day and Grounds Passes for the next day. Sounds easy enough.
In early August I started checking different websites for the best deals. Because of the pricing, I chose one website for the reserved tickets at Ashe Stadium and another website for the Grounds Passes. I ordered all the tickets on the same day. I was so excited when two envelopes arrived about three days later. I tore open the first envelope and saw two tickets to Arthur Ashe Stadium. They were red and yellow with crossed tennis rackets on them: Loge, Sect.129, Row D, Seats 3 and 4. I opened the other envelope and stared at two flimsy pieces of cardboard with an “H” on them. After reading a little, I realized they were Parking Passes! Not my Grounds Passes.
I immediately started emailing that website. I phoned twice and was put on hold for over an hour. Finally a lone email appeared from them and stated “Sorry. We're a third party seller. We can't help you.” I was livid!
Later they gave me another website to try that may be of help. I tried right away. After about three weeks, I was told they'd email me a shipping label to return the Parking Passes. Once that appeared in my email, I sent the passes back tout de suite.
I had cancelled my order for the Grounds Passes earlier. Now what?
On the other website I'd used, the man actually gave me his name (Will) and cell phone number. So I called him. Lo and behold, he answered. I merely stated I needed more tickets for the US Open. Will said the Grounds Passes were now costing more because the event was just a week away and that I'd do better to get reserved seating at Ashe Stadium. We talked a while and I agreed. We could use these reserved tickets as Grounds Passes and if it should rain they'd close the retractable roof and we'd still be able to see tennis.
The tickets arrived the next day, exactly as Will had promised. Quite a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Our flight was good. Our hotel was good, too. The subway is another story, but we somehow managed to get to the tennis tournament. The No. 7 subway train terminates at Flushing Meadows, New York. To the left of the subway is Citi-Field, home of the Mets. To the right is The Billie Jean King Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows. We walked over a boardwalk (bridge) for a ways with about 40,000 other tennis fans. It was crowded but quite orderly. In Corona Park we saw policemen on horseback and the Unisphere from the 1964 Worlds Fair. As we rounded the final curve to our entry at the South Gate, I was shocked to see New York's finest policemen clutching automatic weapons and wearing helmets. Some had trained dogs, too. I just didn't expect that! I guess that's the “norm” nowadays where large crowds gather.
We had good seats at Ashe Stadium. We saw some great tennis: Juan Martin Del Potro (2009 US Open Champ), Maria Sharapova (2006 Open Champ), Karolina Pliskova (2017 #1 seed), Americans Jared Donaldson and Tommy Paul. We also saw the #1 Men's Doubles team of Peers and Kontinen, et al.
On our second day there, I asked Rob, “Maybe we'll see Roger Federer at Ashe Stadium today.” He responded, “Doubtful. Roger usually plays at night.” “Well,” I said, “Pull it up on your phone.” He let out a whoop! “Roger is scheduled to play on Ashe Stadium at 2 p.m.! Can you believe it?"
We actually saw Roger warm up on Practice Court #1. We proceeded to our reserved seats at Ashe for the 2 p.m. match between Roger and Mikhail Youzhny. There's no Open Seating at Ashe Stadium. You must have a ticket to enter. Roger won in five sets. It was great! Everything happens for a reason. Thank goodness our original tickets were lost and I had to reorder. Otherwise, we would not have been able to enter Ashe Stadium with only Grounds Passes.
We had five seconds of fame right before Roger's match in Ashe Stadium. Rob and I appeared on the big screen. We looked like two bumps on a log. Once we realized it was us, we waved and smiled.
We heard many different languages in New York City, some unidentifiable to me. I think I heard French spoken most often. One day we were riding down the elevator in our hotel. To my left was a Nordic family. To my right, Portuguese. Entering the elevator were Spanish speaking people. Somewhere else I thought I heard a smattering of Dutch. Rob was in the front of the elevator; I was in the back. We made eye contact and raised our eyebrows in amazement. Seemed like the Tower of Babel to me.
Our cab driver taking us back to LaGuardia was named “Omar.” He had quite a thick accent and told us he was from Florida.
“You been here long?” Rob asked.
“Yah, a long time,” he answered. “Hey, you no take yellow cab in the city, did you?”
“No.” I answered. “Why?”
Omar stated, “Well, they bad drivers. We get these people from India and say, Africa; they the worst drivers. They don't know how to drive cabs. They just know how to ride elephants!”
Judy Stewart was born and reared in Illinois. She is a preschool teacher and was a legal secretary for “umpteen” years. She is married with three sons and one grandson. She is a previous contributor to The Readers Write.