This article was inspired by actual events.
During the US Open I spent a lot of time watching matches in Arthur Ashe stadium. Our tickets were for the Promenade, which is the top level of seats.
Due to the scheduling, Arthur Ashe isn’t really the best ticket in town for the first week of the tournament because you see top seeds winning straight-forward matches and hardly anyone drops a set. Whereas the more interesting, high quality matches were played on Louis Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums and the other outside courts. Fortunately that changed in the second week when we got to the quarter finals, semi’s and finals.
Scheduling aside, the Arthur Ashe Promenade experience was unlike any other tennis tournament that I’ve been to. And I’ve seen some pretty bad spectator etiquette, which prompted me to write this article.
It’s possible that a lot of spectators who have promenade seats are there for the US Open experience, rather than because they are year round tennis fans. So they probably aren’t familiar with tennis spectator etiquette. And to be fair, there is no information provided by the US Open and there are no ushers to guide the crowd.
This means there is no waiting for a change of ends before moving to and from your seats, people come and go as they please, and the chatter is pretty much constant. I guess the promenade level is too far from the court for the movement and noise to bother the players.
It makes me wish there was an “etiquette video” put on the big screen at the start of each match, kind of like the “safety video” that is shown before a plane takes off.
The experience on Louis Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums and the lower levels of Arthur Ashe stadium at the US Open is similar to other tournaments, but if you’re a tennis fan who wants to enjoy the Arthur Ashe promenade experience I suggest changing your expectations.
Do expect that:
- People around you will dance during the change of ends to try to get on the big screen*. They even stay at the match longer with the hope of getting on the big screen. (The dancing mainly happens at night).
*Every session I was constantly amazed by the people of any age who find their inner dancer once the camera gets close by.
- People will block your view of the match to stop and be in a photo. They might also ask you to take it.
- People will take their time getting to their seats while the match is being played, making everyone stand up to let them go past. This often happens on break point, set point or match point. Often they get to their seats, only to find out they are in the wrong section, and then they have to move on and go and disturb another section of people.
- People will talk loudly on their mobile phones, to the players, to their neighbours and to themselves while the match is being played.
- People near you believe they have better eye sight than players, lines people and umpires when it comes to knowing if a ball is in or out.
- Ushers to be available to organise the crowd.
- To be easily able to find out scores from the other courts (the big screen is used to show the crowd dancing, rather than score updates)
- The free wifi to work (it worked intermittently about 5% of the time but actually it’s a positive that the US Open even offers free wifi)
- And most importantly don’t expect the crowd to be like any other grand slam tournament.
On the plus side, the dancing during the breaks stopped for the finals weekend and the crowds and atmosphere were great.
- you get a work out walking up and down the stairs to your seat
- you can win free ice creams, US Open bags and T Shirts
- the winner hits signed balls into the crowd every night
- you don’t miss any tennis waiting for a change of ends to get back to your seat
- you often overhear “entertaining” comments like “Is Roger Federer still playing?”
- and it’s kinda fun to listen to the music they select when the players walk on to court; Roger Federer always has Star Wars music and “Make a grown man cry” was played when Andy Murray won the final.
What has your experience on the Arthur Ashe Promenade been like?
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal