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Food, Drink, Autographs, and More at US Open

No Fault: A First-Timer's Experience at the US Open

By

Elena Dementieva at US Open

Steady Elena Dementieva, #4 seed, 2008 Olympic champion and former US Open finalist, between serves at Grandstand Stadium.

Photo (c) Steven B. Isham

Food & Drink

We are not keen on expensive food or fast food, which is largely what we found at the outdoor "food village" — expensive fast food. Figure about 10 bucks and up for a personal pizza, sandwich or other selection from one of about 14 diverse concessions. A soft pretzel was $3.50. Beer is $7.50 per cup (domestic or Heineken). We brought in what we could for lunch and snacks and ate lightly at dinnertime. There are also upscale indoor restaurants on-site but we did not sample those.

One late afternoon we decided to walk for food immediately outside the tennis center. The friendly local cop advised us that a left turn onto Roosevelt Ave. would lead to a town of "trucker food" and a right turn to East Asian fare in Flushing. We flipped a coin and ventured left for a half-mile or so and found the small Hispanic-dominated town of Corona and its many Mexican restaurants. We agreed the atmosphere was definitely “trucker.”

If you must leave the tennis facility, good advice is to do a little research, hop on the subway and head a few stops in either direction to find a restaurant you like.

Autograph-Seekers

Lots of folks line up at the conclusion of each match to get the victor’s signature. Many kids carry pens and those overgrown tennis balls and most of the players are accommodating. Probably some good opportunities at the practice courts too.

Photo Opportunities

If you like photography and are ambitious, you can have fun snapping action photos of the players. We used a Nikon D90 digital SLR camera with 70-300mm telephoto lens, which was quite serviceable near the court, though a little short in higher locations.

As novices to tennis photography, we experimented a bit. For most action shots, we used the fastest shutter speed available, with wide apertures to help soften the background and emphasize players in the foreground. We snapped many photos from 1/500th to 1/4000th of a second, depending on time of day and lighting, and used continuous shooting mode for up to four shots per second. Also took a few exposures at slow shutter speeds for creative motion blur.

But even if you have only a cell phone camera, you can frequently get close enough to shoot a memorable photo of the match winner at the Grandstand Stadium and outer courts.

Another promising location for occasional player photos is the area you see on TV interviews near the entrance of Arthur Ashe Stadium, where hordes of waving spectators are behind announcers like the McEnroe brothers. I got a candid of Federer waving to the crowd there, along with a few frames of commentator Brad Gilbert.

No-Fault

We congratulated ourselves on organizing a successful first trip to the US Open and concluded that every serious tennis fan should try to attend at least one. You can spend moderately, like us, or as extravagantly as you like. You can participate as an early-riser, like we did, or go nocturnal.

Finally, New York City itself was surprisingly pleasant. Not once, day or night, did we feel threatened or in any way uncomfortable while walking or using public transportation in the areas we visited. All were safe and sanitary. And contrary to what we might have heard — the city natives were friendly and helpful wherever we went. Really, we could find no fault with our US Open experience.

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