Traveling Fan Girl’s Guide to the Western & Southern Open
Tournament: Western & Southern Open
Location: Mason, Ohio (just outside Cincinnati)
Date: August 10-18, 2013
The Western and Southern Open attracts tennis fans from all over the world. With decent prices and a family friendly atmosphere, this is one tournament you should not miss! The Lindner Family Tennis Center has been working hard over the last few years to improve the grounds and expand the event.
The tournament offers special events at the beginning of the tournament which include Kids Day and High School Day. Kids will get the chance to take part in fun tennis related activities and get their face painted. They also have USTA Member appreciation and Military appreciation night. Like fashion? Get a ticket for Night on the Runway where you can watch a fashion show with dinner and drinks included. All events are detailed on their website.
The Lindner Family Tennis Center is located in Mason, a small town outside Cincinnati. It’s not as active as the city, but you will still be able to find some things to do while you are there. A variety of restaurants and fast food joints are available, and plenty of hotel options. Want to have some non-tennis related fun? Be sure to check out the largest amusement park in the midwest, Kings Island, located down the road from the tennis action. You can even see a view of some of the roller coasters while at the tennis center. Be sure to bring your bathing suit so you can enjoy the water park! There are also local movie theaters and basic shopping centers in the area.
If I had a negative thing to talk about it would be the lack of transportation. Because it’s a small town, transportation isn’t easily available. If you don’t want to pay for a taxi service, I would recommend driving or renting a vehicle. Some of the local hotels like Kings Island Resort Hotel provide transportation to and from the tournament. If that is important to you, make sure your hotel has that option before you book! Not all of them do.
Courtney’s Top 5 Favorite Things
5. It’s A Party and Everyone’s Invited: When I first started attending the Western and Southern Open, the tournament ran for two weeks. Women one week, men the other. Over the past two years, they expanded the tennis center by adding more practice and match courts to prepare for a combined event. The Lindner Family Tennis Center added a lot of nice aspects around the grounds in anticipation for the change, some of which I’ll mention later on in the list. This was the second year the women have joined the men side by side. I don’t watch much WTA in general, so to me, the combined aspect wasn’t needed. However, I have seen some improvements. Because the WTA has to share access of the big stage, you can see some good matches on the outer courts that may have otherwise been scheduled on Center Court. All courts except for Center have general seating so it can help to get a better view of your favorite players. The biggest advantage is that you get more for your buck! Western and Southern Open is a masters event, so you have the opportunity to see the best players in our sport. Plus, the WTA has some of the hottest coaches around.
4. Beat the heat: The temperature can get pretty hot in August and sitting in the sun all day can get to you. I, for one, don’t handle heat well. Luckily, the Western and Southern Open has a few solutions around the grounds. They have an area next to Grandstand where you can go sit under a tent that has a refreshing mist coming down on you. It can make all the difference in those hot moments. They also have a misting fan next to one of the practice courts. If you don’t want to sit under the cool mist, you could always head to the air-conditioned Midwest Sports Tent and do a little browsing of their merchandise. They sell everything from tournament shirts to player gear. They have a great variety of clothes, shoes, racquets and accessories. You are bound to find something you like as you cool down!
3. It’s lunch time: This year the tournament expanded the food court, which was a much-needed change. They added some new vendors and made more space for seating. Trust me, those changes were well appreciated! Previously, the food tents were crowded but now it is more balanced and easier to get around. The food is pretty good too. I haven’t bought a thing I didn’t like. They have basic items like Subway, Pizza and Cincinnati’s famous Skyline Chili, but also new items like sushi, Belgian waffles, and tacos. You can now view all the food vendors and their menus online! Make sure you stop by United Dairy Farmer’s ice cream and get yourself some soft serve frozen yogurt. Trust me. It’s delicious!
2. Autograph!: The improved player entrance is certainly one of my top favorite things about the tournament! First of all, it’s under the player’s building so it stays nice and cool down there. Second, it’s a great way to get autographs of all the players. If autographs are what you want, this is the place you want to be! You can stand behind the gates on either side of the walk way as players enter the tennis center. Kids in particular enjoy standing there with their giant tennis balls. Make sure you have a Sharpie ready! Also, if you stand on the right side of the entrance you can see into the players lounge. You get a view of the pool table and a few arcade games that players enjoy.
1. It’s practice time!: The practices courts at the Lindner Family Tennis Center are amazingly accessible. You can get in close proximity to all practice courts and sometimes that isn’t always the case at other tournaments. I was very disappointed with how the US Open had their practice area closed off! Terrible for any kind of decent pictures. The Western and Southern Open makes it easier for you to get up close and personal with your favorite players. After practice, I wait for players outside their court door and ask for pictures and wish them luck! Not only do you get to see how they prepare for matches, but you can see a bit of their personality at the same time. Players are generally more relaxed out at the practice area and it’s always a nice experience. I tend to spend most of my time there instead of matches.