DC's annual lead-up to the US Open started today at the Rock Creek Tennis Center. Though the major matches in the Citi Open don't get started until Monday, this weekend for $10 online ($15 at the door) you can wander the grounds and see qualifying matches, watch the pros practice, and gawk at players as they go about their business. Today I saw the temperamental Marinko Matosevic beat USA's Austin Krajicek in a third-set tie-breaker, then saw Matosevic -- after playing for a couple of hours in 90 degree heat and humidity -- jogging around the adjacent soccer field. (It reminded me of Agassi's complaint that Jim Courier would do that after beating him back in the day.)
You can buy tickets and find information at the tournament website and find practical tips at the Washington Post. It costs $15 to park on the grounds and the lots there get filled up later in the week. Neighborhood parking is restricted during the event. If you haven't used uber before, you can get "up to" $20 off and get dropped off at the back entrance. Whatever you do, don't try driving up 16th Street during the evening rush and expect to take a left into the parking lot without an excruciating wait. Pudding Man and I did that once and after all that wait we got shunted to an off-site shuttle lot anyway.
The northeast court is a great (and shady, in the afternoon) place to see top players practice. Above I'm trying to pick up tips from Sam Groth for how to up my service speed to approach his ATP record-breaking 163.4 MPH serve (hit in a tournament in Busan in 2012). I've got a ways to go. Groth was practicing with fellow Aussie Lleyton Hewitt. I also saw Kei Nishikori and Kevin Anderson hitting today, and ran into friends who saw Grigor Dmitrov and Andy Murray on the practice court (not necessarily together). I almost accidentally photobombed a kid's selfie with Richard Gasquet. No sign of Tommy Haas today, but if you're a fan check out the Citi Open's announcement on facebook on Thursday that Denis Kudla and Haas got wild cards -- clearly whoever is running that facebook page is a Haas admirer.
Edited to add that tomorrow (Sunday, August 2) is National Parks Kids Day:
National Parks Kids Day
Come out and join us for our National Parks Kids Day, which will include a USTA Play Day, DC Public Library Story Time, Platform Tennis, appearances by local mascots, face painters, and more! All kids 14 and under will receive a complimentary reserved ticket for Session 2 and a lunch voucher courtesy of Guest Services, Inc.
The complimentary tickets for kids 14 and under and the lunch voucher are only redeemable at the Box Office, which will open at 8am on Sunday, August 2.