Citi Field is accustomed to putting on the occasional doubleheader in Flushing Meadows, but the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center?
According to a report by Christopher Clarey at the New York Times, the United States Tennis Association has proposed moving the Western & Southern Open from Mason, Ohio to Queens, New York in an effort to reduce health risks for competitors, and ultimately prevent the sun from setting on two of the summer’s largest tennis tournaments. The annual Cincinnati-area staple welcomes both ATP and WTA players but is controlled by two entities, with the USTA owning the men’s event and Octagon owning the women’s event.
In this reported plan, the Western & Southern Open would retain its week on the tennis calendar, August 17 through 23, before the US Open main draw kicks off on August 31. Both tours would need to approve relocation of the ATP Masters 1000/WTA Premier 5 tournament, and it's expected that playing behind closed doors is becoming an increasingly likely measure at both events.
There are several logistics that will be heavily considered before any final decision is made about the US Open. Players are accustomed to staying where they wish when in town, but Stacey Allaster, chief executive for professional tennis at USTA, told the Times, “We need an effective centralized housing system in place.” For players traveling large teams, entourages may be limited to one person, in many cases forcing those to select between their coach, trainer or agent.
And then there is the matter of getting competitors to the Big Apple. Players would all but certainly be required to verify they have no symptoms of COVID-19, nor been in contact with anyone who has tested positive. Earlier this week, Allaster told the Associated Press that bringing groups of competitors to New York on charter flights was among the USTA’s considerations. Daily temperature checks and follow-up screenings would take place.
Allaster als0 mentioned in Tuesday’s report that corporate suites could be converted into individual lounges for seeded players.
“We don’t really have anything in the rule books for this situation,” Bethanie Mattek-Sands told the Times. “Putting two big tournaments in the same place is definitely on the right track because it definitely makes it a bit easier to control some things.”
As of now, the USTA is not contemplating reducing singles draw sizes. Decisions on qualifying, doubles or wheelchair events being held are yet to be made, while junior and legends draws would be scrapped.