The chanting from the crowd that packed the Court 11 Stadium on Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center for the second-round of the Qualifying Matches to get into the 2015 US Open was not enough to bring Long Islander, Noah Rubin, of Rockville Centre, to the finish line though he certainly gave the more experienced Guido Pella of Argentina a run, finally going down 6-4, 7-6.Rubin, 19, won the Boy’s Singles tournament at Wimbledon in July 2014, and the next month won the 2014 US Tennis Association’s Boys 18s National championships in both singles and doubles. He turned pro just this past June.
Another crowd favorite who was eliminated was Victoria Duval, of Bradenton, Florida, just 19, who came back after more than a year off playing while she battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She won her first round qualifying match against Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, but fell to 15th-seed Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia in the second round, where, after winning the first set in a tie break, 6-7, she dropped the second 6-4 and faded in the third set, 6-0. The two warmly embraced at the end of the match.
The story was different for American player, Anna Tatishvili, born in Tbilisi, Georgia but living now in Boca Raton, Florida. Seeded 16th in the Qualifying Tournament, she overpowered Laura Pous-Tio of Spain, easily dispatching her 6-0, 6-0.
What’s so special about seeing the Qualifying Matches – which offer thrilling tennis, close up, in the most spectacular tennis venue in the world – is also getting to peek in on the top tennis pros practicing, sitting in the biggest ticket seats in the stadium, so you are close at hand.
On Thursday, in the course of the day, we got to see Simona Halep of Romania, ranked #2 in the world, practicing with Louisa Chirico, an up-and-coming American (she lives in Westchester); Marin Cilic of Croatia, the US Open defending champion, working out on the Grandstand court with his coach, the tennis legend Goran Ivanisevic, also Croatian (in 2001, he became the only person to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard). Andrea Petkovic of Germany and Nick Kyrgios of Australia, and Francesca Schiavone. It becomes a kind of game to spot the pros. Everyone took seats as much as an hour early behind the Practice Court where Andy Murray was scheduled to play, only to be disappointed that he was a no-show.
But frankly, it is the outstanding second round Qualifying matches that is even more compelling, where you see superb players in make-or-break situations. Among the matches I watched:
Paul-Henri Mathieu of France, seeded #1, easily dispatched Tobias Kamke of Germany; Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, seeded 6th, on his way to defeating Guido Andreozzi of Argentina, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round; Daniel Nguyen of Long Beach, Calif., fell to 23rd seeded Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in 3 sets, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
In an upset, Guilherme Clezar defeated 12th seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain, in the second round of the Qualifiers, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.
The free admission days of the first four days of the Qualifying Matches are a tribute to New York’s egalitarianism, and bring with them this glorious festive atmosphere.
This year, for the first time, the 2015 US Open will be offering free grounds admission to fans on the event’s second Thursday, Sept. 10.
The day’s action will feature play in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles – including semifinal action in men’s and women’s doubles – as well as junior and wheelchair competition and the semifinals of the Champions Invitational, a showcase of former Grand Slam tournament champions or finalists.
The free grounds admission will also enable fans to watch the second year of the American Collegiate Invitational, which features the top American collegiate tennis players facing off for a potential wild card into the 2016 US Open or 2016 US Open Qualifying Tournament. Play will begin at 12 p.m. on Sept. 10, with the gates opening at 11 a.m.
Fans are also invited to stay to watch the evening’s women’s singles semifinals, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on the video screens throughout the grounds. A purchased ticket is necessary to gain access to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the women’s semifinals. (There will be no play in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the day.)
The free grounds admission was made possible by a change in the schedule for the 2015 US Open. This year, the Open is returning to a 14-day plan, with a day of rest between the men’s and women’s singles semifinals and finals. That means the final four days of the event will feature the women’s semifinals Thursday night, the men’s semifinals Friday, the women’s final Saturday afternoon and the men’s final Sunday afternoon.
Entry is also free during the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Aug. 25-28.
Tennis goers will also be dazzled by the new, retractable roof atop the Arthur Ashe Stadium, a major milestone in the reimagining of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is undergoing a total transformation in its quest to make the home of the US Open one of the top sports venues in the world.
The retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, which will be fully operational for the 2016 US Open, contains 1,700 structural beams and 115,000 bolts and is supported by 24 exterior columns and used 5,000 tons of steel.
The structure features the largest roof opening of any tennis stadium in the world, measuring 250 feet by 250 feet, providing 62,500 square feet of open space.
“The important thing for us was to still be an outdoor tournament, and except when it rains, that roof will be open and people will still feel they are outdoors,” said Danny Zausner, Chief Operating Officer of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “You can still go to the upper promenade and still see sweeping views of Manhattan, which we felt was very important to the process.”
The 2015 US Open begins Aug. 31 and runs through Sept. 13. A temporary shade structure will prevent shadows from the structure from interfering with play, and four new video screens, a new sound system and new LED lighting were to be installed. At the conclusion of this year’s event, the retractable roof sections will be installed, along with a chilled water ventilation system that will help to control humidity inside the stadium when the roof is closed.
Built in 1997 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in New York City, the Arthur Ashe stadium is the world’s largest tennis venue, with a capacity of 22,547.
While the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium is the most visible of the enhancements made to date, there are many more to come. Construction has recently begun on a new Grandstand Court, slated to open in 2016 in the southwest corner of the grounds. Also due for 2016 is an expansion of the southern campus, that will include refurbished tournament courts and expanded fan amenities. And the final piece of the transformation will be a new,14,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is scheduled to be operational in 2018.
“We are completely reimagining the Tennis Center,” said Gordon Smith, USTA Chief Operating Officer. “We want nothing less than this facility being the finest tennis venue in the world and the preeminent sports facility in New York City.”
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