Forget the “Best Of/Worst Of” lists, 2011 tennis has already begun! Australian Open wild card playoffs are upon us and the deadline to apply for Wimbledon tickets is a day away, so forget your off-season vacation (that lasted 6 days?) and get ready to gear up for the new year. I’ve put together an easy list of what you need to know to balance 2011, hopefully to get you thinking on how to anticipate the year and maximize your opportunities. No rest for the weary – this is tennis we’re talking about.
1. Grand Slams: Australian Open tickets went on sale in October so unless you jumped on that before 2010 had even ended, you might be a little out of luck. But if you’re still willing to take the long flight down under, search the internet for other ways to acquire seats or ground passes.
French Open tickets go on sale to the general public February 23, so breathe a sigh of relief on that one.
Wimbledon’s deadline to apply to be able to apply for tickets is TOMORROW. So read the public ballot instructions and get yourself to a post office asap (there is no electronic form, I promise).
As for the last slam of the year, the US Open had a ticket preview sale for USTA members but, rest assured, there will be numerous more opportunities to get your seats (including AMEX pre-sale and 2-for-1 as well as sale to the general public).
A lot of companies also run ticket/travel packages so you could make it a trip to Paris and visit the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame while also taking in tennis at Roland Garros. But remember, always be smart when purchasing tickets and make sure it’s from a legitimate source.
2. Local Tournaments: So you don’t feel like boarding a Qantas jumbo jet and or trading winter for summer (are you crazy?). Basically, you’re the type of person that doesn’t like leaving your time zone. Well, lucky for you, there are plenty of year-round tournaments for you to get your live tennis fix. From Cincinnati to Montreal, Memphis to Bali, or Montpellier to Moscow, no matter where you are there’s sure to be a tournament within reach. Plan ahead now and visit the web sites of the ATP and WTA to find a tournament near you. And don’t be afraid to take a train or plane across time zones for tennis, it’ll be worth it.
3. Television: Being realistic, we can’t all travel to every tournament throughout the year. Not only would you have to quit your day job, but you’d need to clone yourself since many happen at the same time. That is why most of us own a magical box called a television. Now don’t start griping, I know coverage of tennis on mainstream television is… well… isn’t. But it’s getting better. One way you can make it better for yourself is to get the Tennis Channel, which does it’s best to get as many matches as it can from Grand Slams as well as other tournaments.
Also, make sure you get ESPN2, which, for one, broadcasts many matches from the US Open Series during the summer. What better way to spend a lazy August afternoon than watching Darren, Patrick and Brad sweat out the heat and analyze matches.
Another way to help yourself is to get a DVR. Sure, you could become nocturnal to be able to watch every Aussie Open match or you could record them and watch when you have the time.
4. Exhibitions: Imagine my surprise last Christmas when my sister got me tickets to Madison Square Garden to see… Ana Ivanovic? Sure, she replaced Serena at the last minute (Venus, Kim and Sveltana were also there) but random that in the beginning of March I was sitting where I would typically sit to watch the Knicks or Justin Timberlake and I’m watching tennis. But hey, it happened and it’ll happen again. Exhibitions happen all year round and not just with current players but past pros like Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and more. Keep your eyes open and you might score a ticket to something just as unique as I experienced this year.
5. You: For many of us, our love of tennis isn’t just because of Rafa, Maria, Nole, Caroline, Fernando… the list goes on. For some of us tennis fans, we loved tennis before we loved tennis players. So as you’re making your resolutions for the new year, make a resolution to play more tennis. It’s good for you.
Just like the pros are training for 2011, you have to “train” for 2011 as a fan and plan. So get out your ipads and blackberries (or if you’re me – your wall calendar) and begin. And enjoy.