by: Jeamine Yoo (guest blogger and WTA consultant / DC tennis fan)
The Citi Opens
Shuttleloads of excited tennis fans were deposited outside William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center grounds Saturday morning, myself included. Today was the first day of the Citi Open and my first foray into viewing professional tennis and anticipation was high.
History of DC's Pro Tennis Tournament
The Citi Open is one of 12 ATP (Association of Tennis Players) World and WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Tour tournaments leading up to the US Open in New York. Players win points according to their results in each of the tournaments, with more points given to ATP World Masters 1000 and WTA Premier events. The Citi Open is a part of the ATP World Tour 500 series and on the third tier of the tournament, after the US Open and ATP World Masters 1000. It has gone through several changes since its inception in 1969 when it was called the Washington Star International - then more recently the Legg Mason Classic. The main update being men’s and women’s events merging to a joint tournament in 2012.
Experiencing Summer Tennis at Rock Creek Park
The games today and tomorrow were and will be the qualifying rounds where 20 men compete for 6 spots in the main draw; and 16 women compete for 4 spots, including one woman that’s garnered my admiration, young up-and-comer, Taylor Townsend.
The qualifying games were quick—the best of three sets clinched the win. Men’s games were earlier in the day, followed by ladies’ matches, and the evening closed with doubles play.
The setup of the games was pleasantly accessible to viewers. The periphery courts—Grandstands 1 & 2, Courts 1 & 2, and the player practice courts—allowed spectators to come intimately close to the games and players, allowing tennis enthusiasts unrivaled views of the players’ choice of strokes and strategy.
As a recreational tennis player, I appreciated the close views and enjoyed the opportunity to wander from game to game in order to soak up the entire event holistically.
In addition to the accessible games, the community and family-oriented feel of the park was due in part to the distribution of 3,000 complimentary tickets, as well as the tennis clinics held for children and the multitude of colorful vendors handing out their wares and product information. The Citi Open is great at attracting varying levels of tennis fans by hosting special events throughout the tournament, whether it’s a Grand Marnier sponsored Happy Hour or a women’s tennis clinic, there are many activities to participate in between matches.
Friendly Venue for even casual sport fans
For all out there who haven’t attended or have been hesitant to go, try something new! Tickets are still on sale and can be purchased here. The matches are guaranteed to be exciting; pro players can be found strolling throughout the park and are friendly and engaging to fans.
A few tips for first-time visitors:
- Parking on the field ($10) is limited, so metro into Van Ness and take the shuttle—it’s seamless, convenient, and runs about every 15 minutes.
- Once inside, find the info booth and acquire a map of the venue
- Acquaint yourself with the day's Schedule of Play so you can plan your outing according to your player preferences.
- Do float around and soak it all in!
- Remember to bring and liberally apply sunscreen as most courts have no shade.
Stay tuned for highlights and predictions, but first, go buy your tickets!