On a bit of a whim, we decided in late July 2012 to attend the Western & Southern Open, just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. Trevor had a friend living temporarily near Dayton, just north of the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio. It has one of the best tennis fan experiences of any tournament we’ve attended.
We bought our tickets through an online reseller, QueenBeeTickets.com. For US$145/ticket, we got two seats in the 2nd row behind the baseline for the quarterfinals. Very reasonable compared to what we’ve had to pay at other tournaments (including Rogers Cup) and considering we bought through a reseller.
So what was it like? Awesome! As one of the two main warm-up tournaments for the US Open (along with the Rogers Cup – see our article [here]), there is always a great draw for both the ATP and WTA. Since it’s a combined tournament, there are plenty of matches going on on all courts throughout the week, so plenty to see as a fan.
The site is out of the city a bit, but that’s not really an issue as long as you have a car. Parking was in a field next to the facility, and was not a problem.
Once you get on the grounds, you can tell this is a laid back tournament. Even though we were there on what turned out to be, the busiest day in the tournament’s history, the grounds never felt crowded. For a smaller tournament, the facilities were great, there were lots of food options, and it was an overall fun environment.
The center court stadium itself is smaller than many other top tier tournaments as well (only the center courts for the Italian Open and Monte-Carlo Masters are smaller). This gives it a more intimate feel, as you can get closer to the action. We were so close that practice serves before one of the matches were bouncing up into our seats, and we were throwing them back to the players.
We were able to watch 3 of the 4 men’s matches. Djokovic winning over Cilic, Del Potro beating Chardy, and our hometown favorite Milos Raonic unfortunately losing a tight 3-set match to Stan Wawrinka. On the women’s side, we saw Venus win over Sam Stosur but unfortunately missed Kerber beating Serena as we were staking out our seats on the grandstand court for Raonic – Wawrinka.
The Western & Southern Open was probably our favourite ATP 1000/WTA Premier tournament until we went to Indian Wells. Every year we debate heading to Cincinnati for a long weekend in August, just so we can go again.
The grounds feel intimate, but not crowded. The site is a bit outside of Cincinnati, but it’s not a long drive. The small size of the courts keeps fans close to the action, and open seating on the grandstand court means you can get great seats for some top matches with a bit of planning.
We were impressed by the food options, considering this is a smaller tournament. In addition to the standard burgers, hot dogs, and pizza, they also had noodles, sushi and other options.