Mar 092014
 
 March 9, 2014  Posted by at 1:44 am Tennis Travel Tips 1,104 Responses »

Wimbledon is said to be the most prestige Grand Slam.  Guess probably because the tournament want to be promoted that way, or  may be it’s a British thing.  They always think they are still the royalty for some strange reasons.  The impression of England in general is that it’s OLD.  It funny to see the typical houses here look like they come straight out of a Harry Potter  movie.  No, no, those are not medieval villages, they are modern  England.  Wimbledon Open is held at a high end country club where everybody wear white and talk with a British accent.

When to Get There:

Getting There:

You should be flying in to Heathrow Airport in London, then proceed with train or the London Underground to your hotel of choice.  If you are into old  castles, culture and museums, there are a lot of attractions for you to visit.  e.g. Tower of London, Windsor Castle, London Eye.  For more info, visit LondonPass.com for more info.

Rental Car:

You don’t really need a car in London.  The subway, or should I say the “Tube” will take you everywhere you want to go.  However, it’s a long walk form the closest stop to the Wimbledon court.  The closest tube stop is Southfields on the District Line which is before the grounds itself.  The village of Wimbledon is past the grounds and apparently is further away than Southfields.   You could either take a taxi or hop on a shuttle bus to get to Wimbledon.

Accommodations:

Booking online at Priceline.com or Hotwire.com will be your best bet.  Find something 3 to 4 stars anywhere in London would be fine.  The hotels are all quite ancient anyways, you will think you have traveled back in time.  If you are used to the spacious hotel in North America, it will take some getting used to, I hope you are not claustrophobic…

 

What to Watch?

If it’s part of your Europe tour, you can get up early (8 am) to line up for general admission tickets.  Once you get into the ground and watch some actions on the practice courts, you should head to the Charity ticket counter where they sell court side seats for $5 pounds.  Some good people, who paid upward of $200 pounds for those seats but only have time to watch the first couple matches, put the tickets for Charity auction.  Well, it’s not really an auction per se, but rather a nice charity gesture.

Mar 092014
 
 March 9, 2014  Posted by at 1:43 am Tennis Travel Tips 2,520 Responses »

US Open is the most convenient grand slam in North America.  It’s held in Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, New York.  It’s not as fans friendly as BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.   You will have a great time if you have never been to New York, or totally love New York and want to revisit.

When to Get There:

The US Open starts in late August every year.  You should get your tickets early.  It is recommended that you sign up for a USTA membership to get into the early round of ticket sales.  If you like to get the experience without losing an arm and a leg, you should get the mini package.  It will give you multiple day and night sessions.  Or you can go another route to buy the full series and sell the tickets you can’t use.  It is recommended to go in the early rounds if you want to see your favorite players, which means the first week.  If you are going to watch the final, you should definitely get one of the ticket plans.  The final tickets are hard to get individually and usually pricy if you get it from site like StubHub.com.

Getting There:

You can either fly in to JFK Airport or fly to New Jersey and take a cab, train back to the city.  Getting to Flushing Meadow is another story.  Take the subway, the #7 train runs from Grand Central Terminal to Mets-Willets Point Station.  Depending on where you stay, it takes as much as 45 min to get from Manhattan to Flushing Meadow.

Rental Car:

You don’t really need a car in New York unless you want to go to the premium outlet  and drive to the pier to take the ferry to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty up close.  Other than that, subway and occasional bus trips are more than sufficient.

Accommodations:

The hotel room rates are quite expensive, no matter how many stars the hotel has.  If you choose to stay in the Flushing Meadow area, the hotels are usually about 3 - 3.5 stars and they all charge as much as they can get away with during the two weeks.  If you want to stay closer to the night life, you should find a flight and hotel package inside Manhattan.  The schedule will go like this:  wake up early in the morning, get some breakfast and hit the subway.  You can enjoy your breakfast while on the train, that should save you an hour of sleep.  Once you are there and after you are done for the day, you can take the subway back to the Broadway/Time Square area to have dinner, people watching, watch a Broadway show.

What to Watch?

The practice courts here are not really designed with tennis fans in mind.  The top players love to practise at the far end of the practise area where they are undisturbed.  So good luck getting autographs and seeing you favorite players.  You could try getting up to the stadium court and climb to the top of the stand and watch with your long len DSLR camera.   Mind you, the top players tends to be a bit camera shy in US Open, possibly because they want to focus on the match since the stake is high.

Mar 092014
 
 March 9, 2014  Posted by at 1:42 am Tennis Travel Tips 1,170 Responses »

BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden is every tennis fan’s dream come true.   Indian Wells is located 30 minutes from Palm Spring, about 2 hours drive from Los Angeles Airport (LAX).  Unlike other tennis tournaments and grand slams, Indian Wells Tennis Garden specifically cater for tennis fan’s need.  With over 20 practices courts and the intimate atmosphere, tennis fans can watch their favorite tennis players practise up close and person.

When to Get There:

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells usually start in early March.  You should make up your plan, book flight, car and accommodation no later than November the previous year.  When to get there depends on your preference.  If you like to see your favorite players on the practice courts, you should come in during the early rounds.  There are frequent early round upset, especially on the WTA side, so be sure to come in early to catch all the actions.   If you like to sit inside the stadium and watch matches, you should get the mini package.  The biggest bang for the buck will be the first weekend, usually the first and 2nd rounds where one ticket in Stadium give you 3 day matches.  Night match tickets are sold separately.

Getting There:

You have the option to fly directly to Palm Spring airport(PSP) or LA (LAX).  Here are the pros and cons:
If you are planning to fly directly to Palm Spring, make sure your rental car way ahead of time, like a year ahead of time and confirm your car a couple weeks before you arrive.  One year, we arrived at Palm Spring and we were told that our rental has been cancelled because the rental company (Hertz) said they can’t confirm the reservation a few weeks before we arrive.  We ended up waiting for a rental car return at the rental company.  Luckily, one of the renter had some issue with his credit card, we ended up taking that car and had a free upgrade :D.

The moral of the story is, you are better off flying to LA, spend a few days at the tourist attractions like Universal Studio and Disneyland, go watch Lakers game or Clippers game.  Then head up to Indian Wells.  It’s nice to spend a sunny afternoon at the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade, and check in at your hotel of choice later the day.

The gate opens at 10:00am at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and most of the big name players like to practice at the 10:00am sessions. The matches in stadium 1 and 2 both start at 11am. The traffic in LA could be unpredictable, it is better to drive up to Indian Wells the day before your ticket date. If you drive up to Indian Wells in the morning, you might miss the top players and the first match.

Rental Car:

Rental cars are in short supply in Palm Spring area during the tournament weeks.  It is partly due to the tennis tournament and partly because a lot of snow birds fly in from all over the east coast and Canada.  They usually stay for weeks or months.  Make sure you reserve at least half a year early and call them to confirm your reservation a few week before your arrival time.  Otherwise, your best bet is to fly in to LA.  There are plenty of rental in LA.

When you in Indian Wells, make sure you check out the La Quanta Resort.   This is where the players practise off site and there is na annual charity event where top players and celebrities play exhibition matches.   They offers the umpire chair for donors to bid.  The highest bidder get to be the chair umpire for a match.  You sure will have a fun filled afternoon.

Accommodations:

The La Quinta Resort is very nice and so are the Marriott Shadow Ridge Series.  But for the biggest bang for you buck, you should co-ordinate with the tennis players at your club to rent a house.  Renting a 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms house with pool, outdoor grill area for a week and share among your tennis buddies.   If could save you as much as 50% of the accommodation cost while stay at beautiful resort rental.

What to Watch?

If you want to catch the action up close or get your t-shirt signed by your favorite players, your best bet is to camp around practice court 1, 2 and 3.  They usually arrange the top seeds to practise on these courts since they can accommodate the most number of spectators.