In one of the last lead up events prior to the US Open, the W&S Open represents a great opportunity for fans to get a front row seat to see their favorite players as they look to put the finishing touches on their grand slam preparation. This year marked my third time attending the tournament, which takes place about thirty minutes north of Cincinnati in Mason, OH. If you have yet to attend, or it’s been a few years since you’ve last been on site, here’s what you can expect to experience at the W&S Open.
NAVIGATING THE TOURNAMENT
One of the first things I noticed was the overall ease of getting to and from the site, especially compared to other large sporting events. There are multiple lots around the grounds that will allow you to park onsite, and walk to the stadium. This year, the tournament provided a pick up and drop off space for Uber that was right across from the main entrance. I used this multiple times to get to and from the site, which was definitely an added convenience.
Crowd size has definitely increased over the past three years. In fact, the tournament set an attendance record during the Tuesday sessions. It will be interesting to see how the tournament evolves in the coming years to accommodate the continually growing crowds.
ON SITE AMENITIES
To help you plan around your must-sees, there is a large TV screen that shows match and practice schedules for the day. (The official tournament app is helpful keep up to date on any changes that may occur as play starts.) The tournament has a great food court with many options from local restaurants to help you refuel during the day. There are tented areas with tables and chairs to enjoy your food and/or grab a drink with friends.
A fan favorite feature on-site is the player entrance area. Fans are allowed to greet players, coaches, and other members of the team as they enter the stadium. It provides a good opportunity to get an autograph or photo with players. Located at the west end of Center Court, you’ll find fans camped out in this area all day to try and catch a glimpse of the players as they come and go.
This is where the W&S Open really delivers an unforgettable experience. Player access is incredible with many practice courts offering seating to watch the players warm-up for their matches. Courts 15 and 16 were especially popular with the likes of Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and Venus Williams. Court 15 has a deck with tables and umbrellas for fans to use when watching their favorites practice and Court 16 has a set of bleachers to sit on. These viewing areas fill up quickly so arriving early is a must but seeing the players practice up close is well worth the wait and the highlight of my trip every year.
There really is nothing quite like hearing the ball come off the rackets of these players in person during a match, and you’ll have plenty of chances to do just that during the tournament. While the larger courts (Center, Grandstand, Court 3) will be where the big stars play, the outside courts is where you’ll catch some really good matches early on in the tournament.
Even after attending the tournament for the past three years, it still surprises me just how easily time can get away from you, especially if you are walking around from court to court. One of the great things about attending the W&S Open is that your ticket will get into every court on the grounds. You’ll have your assigned seat for Center Court, and majority of the seating on the outside courts will be general admission. I’ve sat in the highest levels of Center Court, but never felt like I was too far away from the match play.
My overall takeaway from attending the W&S Open is that you can really get out of the experience what you want to put into it. If you’re interested in seeing a certain player up close, you will definitely get the opportunity to do so. You may have to get up early, wait in line, or wait on a practice court longer, but the opportunity will be there. The W&S Open is a great fan experience, and something that I look forward to attending every year.