The US Open Tennis Championship is coming on August 28
The 2017 United States Open Tennis Championship starts on Monday, August 28, and both fans and players look forward to it with great anticipation. As the final Grand Slam event of the year, the US Open is always guaranteed to be an exciting two weeks. Competitors can be both amateur and professional players from anywhere in the world, and men and women are both welcome. The US Open Qualifying Tournament is held the previous week, from August 22 through 25.
The US Open evolved over the course of 136 years, and started out as a grass court tournament for members of the USNLTA (United States National Lawn Tennis Association) in 1881, and was then called the US National Singles Championships for Men. At that time, it was held at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island, and as suggested by the name only men could compete. The next year, the rules changed to permit players not associated with clubs belonging to the USNLTA, and then in 1887 the women's version of the tournament started at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Tournaments for doubles and mixed doubles were added in subsequent years. Together, these tournaments were referred to as the US National Championships.
Almost from the very beginning, there was pressure to move the US National Championships to New York City, and in 1915 they relocated to the West Side Tennis Club in the Forest Hills neighborhood in Queens, NYC. Except for a 3-year temporary move to Philadelphia while a new 14,000-seat Forest Hills Stadium was being built, the tournament has remained in New York City to this day. It's currently held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, also in Queens, after moving there in 1978.
Besides the relocation, the other significant change was the combining of all the related tournaments into one in 1968, which was the birth of the US Open as it is today. Amateurs, professionals, men, women, Americans, and players from other countries could all compete together.
The US Open continued to be played on grass courts until 1975, when it was switched to clay. The move to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 1978 brought with it another change to hard courts. At first the hard courts were green, but were changed to blue inside the lines in 2005 to make it easier for attendees and television viewers to see the ball. The surfacing used is Pro DecoTurf.
There are 22 courts on the grounds of the National Tennis Center, but most are field and practice courts— the main courts are the Arthur Ashe Stadium and the Grandstand, which seat 22,567 and 6,000 fans respectively, and Court 17, called the Pit, which features enhancements like electronic line calling and large TV screens. Up until 2016, the 10,200-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium was also a main tournament court, but was demolished last year.
What's New in 2017?
The 2017 US Open will introduce two experimental rules, including a shot clock to prevent players taking too long for timeouts and warmups and to help keep the games moving at a fast pace. Coaching will also be allowed courtside, including both verbal and hand gestures, despite being forbidden at the other Grand Slam tournaments. It will be interesting to see how these experimental rules play out this year!
Other Grand Slam Tournaments
The Grand Slam is made up of four tournaments, starting with the Australian Open in the second half of January in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian Open is played on hard courts, although grass courts were used until 1987.
The second tournament is the French Open (also called Roland-Garros) running from late May into June, in Paris, France. It's the only open tournament played on a clay court, and the slow surface contributes to its reputation as the most strenuous of the tournaments.
The third tournament is the Championships, Wimbledon, and has been held on grass courts at the All England Club in London, England since 1877. The history and tradition behind Wimbledon, its strict etiquette rules, and its location place it in most people's minds as the most prestigious of the tennis tournaments. It runs for two weeks in early July.