Some grand slam tennis fan thoughts on the Australian Open after attending ten sessions over the past two weeks.
1. The @AOSOS Twitter account is a great idea and really helpful for fans.
The main @australianopen account now has over 150,000 followers so the account https://twitter.com/AOSOS was set up “to help manage fans questions”.
They’ve been really friendly and responded quickly to the questions that I’ve asked. If I was doing a Fan Test I would rate the @AOSOS Account as “Ace”.
2. The new set up of the practice courts has made the Australian Open bigger and better
I’ve already talked a bit about the practice courts in past articles but it is one of my favourite things so I’ll mention it again.
The only downside has been when players haven’t shown up or perhaps their practice session has been moved to somewhere else.
It’s also quite hard to see the courts from the viewing deck unless you’re in the front row. I’m not sure if it can be done but it would help if some stable steps (secured to the ground so there’s no risk of toppling over) could be added so that people in the second and third rows could also see. This would also stop people from attempting to stand on wobbly chairs, which in turn would make the job of the security people easier.
3. Rod Laver Arena will always be scheduled for an Australian audience
Bernard Tomic, ranked No.43, played all his matches on Rod Laver Arena. The first Tuesday night session was Tomic followed by Jarka Gajdosova. I understand why it’s scheduled this way but I always know there are other matches I would have preferred to watch when I at the US Open Centre Court where US players were regularly scheduled.
4. Empty seats in Hisense Arena could be made available to Ground Pass holders
Hisense Arena is fully ticketed but often the back blocks of seats are empty and depending who is playing a lot more seats become empty later in the day. For Court 3 at Wimbledon, some seats are ticketed and some can be accessed by Ground Pass holders. An arrangement like this at Hisense Arena would add value to Ground Passes as well as encouraging bigger crowds and better atmosphere.
5. The Rod Laver Arena crowd control is good but there are still too many people walking around during play
All the ushers who I interacted with in Rod Laver Arena were friendly and helpful while still taking their job seriously, closing access to the arena once the umpire called time. However I still saw too many random people leaving their seats during play, often at critical times, Roger Federer’s match points for example.
6. There is an opportunity to share tips for good spectator etiquette
Again, the spectator etiquette that I’ve observed this AO, while not perfect, has been pretty good. The ushers explain to tennis newbies how the change of ends system works, and there are signs telling people to switch off their mobile phones. But if you’ve never been to a tennis match before there is no where to learn spectator etiquette (not that I’ve seen anyway, I’ll have to have another look through the program). A few points put on the big screen prior to each match would be helpful. Or perhaps a funny video illustrating the key points (if you live in Aus, something like they do at the cinema to remind people to turn their mobile phones off).
7. Bigger crowds mean more personal planning is needed
This year the Australian Open has achieved bigger crowds than ever before. For me, who is used to going to Margaret Court Arena or Showcourt 2 later in the night once the matches have been in progress for a while and getting a seat pretty quickly, I’ve now learned that if I want to see a match, get there before it starts!
8. Even in Australia, people will queue if there is a queue without necessarily knowing why
There are loads of activities on Grand Slam Oval. Most of them are described in the program so you can have a look at which companies are doing what and decide what to queue up for. But if you didn’t have a program, none of the tents have a description of what’s going inside, so you either need to ask the person at the door or queue up and hope that it’s good once you get there.
9. Australian Open Membership is growing fast
I didn’t spend too much time in the Member areas this AO, but when I did it feels like the Membership is growing and more people are taking advantage of the Member areas and other benefits. This is a credit to AO marketing and the value that a membership provides.
I also think that the coffees are too small, and that the 200mm maximum limit for a camera lens could be increased. I don’t see that a media photographer with a big lens taking photos from a courtside position would ever be threatened by fan photos taken with a 250mm or even 300 mm lens.
What else have you noticed as a fan at the 2013 Australian Open?
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal