US Open's rain protection is all wet
When it comes to keeping US Open courts dry, the US Tennis Association is all wet.india Updated: Sep 03, 2003 09:38 IST
When it comes to keeping US Open courts dry, the US Tennis Association is all wet.
Three days of rain delays have players annoyed, fans aggravated and everyone wondering why the US Open does not have tarps to cover courts like Wimbledon or a retractable stadium roof like the Australian Open.
Instead, USTA officials watch it rain and hope it stops.
Disdaining more costly options, the US Open has ballboys using mops and towels to soak the water from drenched Flushing Meadows hardcourts once rain has relented, with motorized air dryers a relatively recent addition.
"The history of the event has been the system that's now in place," said Arlen Kantarian, the USTA's chief executive. "I'm told there could potentially be a three- to four-minute pickup in terms of time had we had tarps.
"Does three or four minutes warrant the type of tarp or not? To the degree it can help us save more than three to four minutes, I think we would be more serious about investigating that."
Many disagree with Kantarian's assessment. Four-time US Open champion John McEnroe ripped officials for not having tarps or a retractable stadium roof, especially in light of downpours that have marred recent US Opens.
"We've had more rain in the last two years than in the (prior) 10 years combined," said National Tennis Center facility director Danny Zausner. "It's something that's new to us. It's not being ignored, I'll assure you that."
But the USTA system is not without flaws. An oil leak on a machine at the Grandstand forced two matches off the court and extra drying agents on the slick spot have been needed for two days to make the surface playabale again.
There is a chance the US Open will follow the Australian Open with a roof. A feasibility study is ongoing to consider building a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium or Louis Armstrong Stadium, the main show courts here.
"We're very jealous of that situation," Kantarian said. "We have hired some master planners that have done a tremendous amount of work for stadiums.
"One of the many reasons is to take a more in-depth look at whether or not it's feasible, both structurally and financially, to put a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. It's not in the plans. But I would never say never."
"It certainly is a costly situation, a much more costly situation after a venue has been built, and then contemplate whether or not a roof would make sense. If you look at the 122-year history of this event and trace the weather it certainly would not make sense. That doesn't mean we would rule it out."
Kantarian said Louis Armstrong Stadium or the Grandstand, with smaller seating areas, might be considered for a roof as a lower-cost option and one that would allow for greater uses to justify the expense.