WASHINGTON, May 31, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
Imagine, a US Open with charter flights to ferry tennis players – and their limited “teams” – from Europe (Paris, Vienna, Frankfurt), South America (Buenos Aires) and the Middle East (Dubai) to New York City. Imagine, negative Covid-19 tests before traveling, centralized housing and daily temperature checks. Imagine, the usually loud but lively Billie Jean USTA National Tennis Center with no spectators, with fewer on-court officials – relying on line-calling technology and using adult ball persons, no kids – and no locker-room access for players on practice days. Lots of imagines, but …
It could happen.
A high-ranking United States Tennis Association (USTA) official told the Associated Press Saturday night that these are some of the possibilities that are being considered for the 2020 US Open at Flushing Meadows – that is, if it is held at all. Right now, the global coronavirus pandemic is the big variable – one that has grounded pro tennis since early March for the foreseeable future – that could keep the US Open from happening this year.
“All of this is still fluid,” Stacey Allaster, the USTA chief executive for pro tennis, said in a telephone interview with AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich. “We have made no decisions at all.”
Right now, the US Open remains on the tennis schedule, from August 31 to September 13. Allaster stressed that if the USTA board does green light the US Open, she expects it will be held in Flushing Meadows, the tournament’s host site since 1978, and in its current spot on the calendar. Last year’s US Open, from qualifying draw through the finals, drew about 850,000 spectators.
“We continue to be, I would say, 150%, focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates. It’s all I wake up – our team wakes up – thinking about,” Allaster said. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”
An announcement on the US Open should come from “mid-June to end of June.”