A US Open Like We Have Never Seen

Staff Writer: Molly McWethy

The US Open Tennis Championships held in the beautiful city of New York is a dream come true for all young tennis stars. It is hosted by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and is one of the 4 major Grand Slam tournaments in the world. The top players come from all over the world in an attempt to win the grand prize of $3,000,000 and a gorgeous trophy made by Tiffany & Co. 

The first US Open tournament was in 1881 in Newport Casino, Rhode Island. While it has been hosted in many different states it has made its final home at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. On the US Open grounds is the legendary Arthur Ashe stadium. The stadium was named in honor of the first African American US Open champion of 1968.  The stadium has 22,547 individual seats and 90 luxury seats.

Mrs. Cannon, an ESOL/Social Studies teacher at Woodstock High School who has played tennis for 25 years said, “The US Open is really special to me. It’s the only tennis grand slam played in the US and Arthur Ashe stadium is a historical place. The vibe there is usually really electric when fans are there. It is my dream to go there one day!”

In 2006, Arthur Ashe became the first grand slam stadium that was equipped with the Hawk-Eye line-calling system, which allows players to challenge an umpire’s decision on calls made throughout the tournament. It is where every US Open finals match is played. 

In order to qualify to play in the US Open tournament you must be a paying member of the USTA. A player can register for a qualifying tournament through the USTA’s Tennis Link website. The qualifying tournament consists of single elimination matches and playing best-of -three tie-breaking sets. Winning the qualifying tournament will allow you to receive a wild card entry. The rest of the players are those who are ranked among the top 104 players who sign up for the Grand Slam. 

This year’s US Open tournament was very different then the one held in 1881 and previous years. The Covid-19 pandemic effected not only how the tournament was played, but also the player’s housing situations.

The players were limited to only 3 of their team members and that included family. They were housed in the US Open “bubble” and were tested regularly for the virus. Even though they were more restricted this year, they had a different type of freedom that they have never really had before.

The players were able to walk freely through the grounds and play games such as pickle ball, mini-golf, pool, basketball, and soccer. Players also enjoyed filling the role of the “fans” where they could watch their friends, colleagues, and future opponents. 

This year’s, women’s champion, while growing up mostly in the US, represents the country of Japan. Naomi Osaka, a 22 year old Haitian/ Japanese woman claimed her 2nd US Open title. She won 6 matches to get to the finals, where she won her 7th.

In the finals she took the championship title when she defeated V. Azarenka with a final score of 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Naomi Osaka made a historical impact on the tournament by not only winning, but also by showing her support of the Black Lives Matter movement. She honored individuals who have been recently killed by wearing a mask with a name on it for each match. The tournament also had posters supporting the movement in the seats of Arthur Ashe.

Mrs. Cannon also noted, “Naomi Osaka was really impressive to me throughout the tournament. As a young, female athletic superstar, she chose to use her platform to speak out about social issues important to her. Some worried she might be distracted by the media and attention it was garnering, but she stayed focus and won her second US Open. She really is a super star and I love watching her on and off the court!” 

Photo Credit: NBC Sports
Naomi Osaka holding up her championship trophy after winning the Women’s Singles final match.

The following day Dominic Thiem defeated Alexander (Sasha) Zverev making this a historical mens final match because for the first time in 6 years there would be a first time US Open champion. This in part, because of the disqualification of the world No.1 Novak Djokovic earlier in the tournament.

Ben Onufrock, a junior at Woodstock High School who has been playing tennis for 11 years and plays line 1 singles for the boys varsity team, “ I love watching the players play, especially Thiem.” This men’s final brings to light the aging of the “Big 3,” players, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. 

Photo Credit: ABS CBN News
Dominic Thiem celebrating with the championship trophy after winning the Men’s Singles final match.

The young players are set to reign the courts in this new decade.

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