KID REPORTERS’ NOTEBOOK
A Grand Slam
On Opening Day of the 2016 United States Tennis Championship, fans from near and far flocked to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York. They came to watch the world's best tennis players compete in some sizzling matches.
The U.S. Open is one of four annual tournaments that constitute “the Grand Slam.” The other three are the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon.
A new Grandstand Stadium and improvements to Arthur Ashe Stadium were big attractions at the Open. “There are some great new vantage points to watch tennis,” said Michael Trzaska, a United States Tennis Association (USTA) representative. “You can get a lot closer to the tennis action and to the tennis players.”
A major improvement at Arthur Ashe Stadium this year was the retractable roof. “The new roof is a big deal,” Trzaska said. Designed to prevent rain delays that have caused trouble in the past, the massive structure provides a better experience for players and fans. The roof not only keeps rain out, but also minimizes high winds and exposure to the sun.
The weather was sunny and warm on August 29, the day I visited. It was thrilling to absorb the energy all around. At Arthur Ashe Stadium, where it was cool inside, I enjoyed watching the first-round day matches: Roberta Vinci defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam, Angelique Kerber defeated Polona Hercog, and Rafael Nadal beat Denis Istomin.
Lucas DeGraff, 10, from Darien, Connecticut, said that the best part for him was getting autographs. “I’m looking forward to getting Nadal’s autograph,” Lucas said.
In the new Grandstand, Jacob Smith, 12, from Needham, Massachusetts, watched John Isner defeat Frances Tiafoe in a five-set match. “It was over three hours of pure entertainment,” Jacob said.
I was able to walk around by the outside courts and watch the practice games up close. I saw top players hit the ball around, including Novak Djokovic from Serbia and Andy Murray from Scotland.
Joao Sousa, who is ranked Number 36 in the world, gave advice for young players. “Be very disciplined, and always have fun playing the sport,” said Sousa, who is Portuguese. “Find the joy even when things do not go your way.”
I also caught up with Tom Rinaldi, a reporter for ESPN and ABC who is based in New York City. He passed on some reporting tips. “Be curious, be a listener, and be prepared,” Rinaldi said.
A SURPRISING FINISH
As the tournament progressed, there were some major upsets. In the men's finals on September 11, Stan Wawrinka beat the top-seeded Djokovic in four sets. On the women's side, American Serena Williams, one of the greatest champions in the history of the sport, lost in the semi-finals to Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Germany's Angelique Kerber went on to defeat Pliskova to claim the women's championship trophy.
During the semi-finals, Williams was nursing a knee injury. Last month, she competed in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, like several other players. Competing in the two events proved to be grueling for many.
“I'm not going to sit here and make an excuse,” Williams said after her loss. Like all champions, she was looking for her next victory.