It’s no surprise that the US Open has a reputation as one of the most expensive sporting events of the year. Not only is tennis a favorite sport among country club frequenters, but anyone who’s seen the tournament on TV knows it’s the perfect place to spot Bill Clinton, Beyonce, Martha Stewart and multiple Kardashians sitting about, clapping politely. Here’s the good news, though: you don’t need to be able to afford a spot next to Alec Baldwin to watch the athletes in action. There are several ways to enjoy Queen’s biggest annual event without spending much:
RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the U.S. Open in New York
1. Pay nada at the open-to-the-public qualifying rounds: Today marks the beginning of the four day tournament where hundreds of internationally ranked players—typically those that are currently placed between 105 and 250 in the world—compete for a spot in the big event. Many of the contenders are young up-and-comers who might just be destined for their own multi-million dollar product sponsorship deals one day.
2. Watch the powerhouse players practice: If you’re not all that interested in a bunch of potential-stars, don’t write off the qualifying rounds just yet—this is the great time to get a glimpse of the huge stars warming up for the August 31st start date. Check out the practice schedule the morning of and rush for a spot in the crowd to watch the likes of Serena Williams and Andy Murray (both of whom practiced this morning) working on their serves.
3. Skip Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and head to the bar: There’s plenty of local watering holes screening the games and those cameras get a real up close look at the skilled (and, let’s face it, attractive) athletes. You can cheer for your favorite while also saving money—some of these spots have awesome food and drink deals.
4. Get a grounds pass the last weekend: Sure, $25 won’t get you into the actual stadiums for the epic conclusions, but it will get you into the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Check out the wheelchair and collegiate tennis tournaments, and gather around the big screens with thousands of other fans, enjoying some tasty treats and drinks from the Food Village, when Serena Williams potentially competes for the chance to become the first Grand Slam winner since 1988.