The marriage of New York City and the U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center works on many levels. You have a city that is hard on its sports stars, and you have tennis being played in the bright lights of prime time.
Tennis Channel and CBS tennis analyst Jim Courier certainly knows all about what it's like to play at night in New York. He and colleague Mary Carillo recently talked about what they love about the U.S. Open.
How are the U.S. Open and New York alike?
"They are both demanding. The [U.S.] Open is the final major of the year, and players come here after a long season. They are banged up, tired and ready to close things out for the summer. They want to win the [U.S.] Open title, but in some cases their bodies and their will just aren't up to it. New York and the crowds that come to the Billie Jean King tennis facility demand that players give them their best performances. You can see the players summon up and draw strength from the crowds, digging down deep to play with the last bit of energy they have in their tanks. You either are equal to the task or you aren't -- and if not, then losing in New York can be tough."
What about the logistics?
Carillo »"[There's always] movement on the grounds at the tennis center. There is the New York-style hustle and bustle as fans move from court to court. There is the same type of hustle and bustle for the players as they go from their hotels in Manhattan out to the tennis center in Queens. They face the same traffic as other New Yorkers. But the players love the crowds, the fans love the players and everyone enjoys being part of the U.S. Open and coming to New York."
What makes playing at night so special?
Courier » "You are playing on the largest stage in tennis. You have the biggest stadium in all of tennis, so the crowds are there in force and loud. It is like a Broadway play. You have drama. Sometimes there is comedy. But as a player you know that the world is watching your match under the bright lights, and it does not get better than that. Players are at home in their hotel or in the stands watching. The night matches to us [are] what 'Monday Night Football' is to the NFL players."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.