If you live near the District than you have already seen the preparations for the upcoming Citi Open, the tune up ATP 500 tennis tournament that takes place in Rock Creek Park every year. Since 1969 Washington, D.C. has been home to this tournament, hosting tennis players from all over the world and of all ranks to prepare for the US Open- the last Grand Slam in the tennis calendar year. This year Citi Open boasts some of the biggest players from the tennis world: Andy Murray, Eugenie Bouchard, Grigor Dimitrov, John Isner, and Sam Stosur just to name a few. However, phenomenal tennis aside, Citi Open is run by many volunteers from ushers to ball kids, and every year proceeds from the tournament are donated to the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF). WTEF is a foundation that aims to serve the underprivileged children of Washington, D.C. by giving them a free academic education as well as free tennis lessons. They believe to train the mind one must also train the body, and offer a variety of programs, from the Arthur Ashe Children’s Program which happens every day after school for two hours focusing on tennis, academics, and life skills, to the Center for Excellence program, an intensive year-round academic and athletic program for children in 1st through 12th grade.
Citi Open is much more than a tennis tournament. Every year they have special events happening during the week. This year there is a kick off 90’s cover band concert on August 1st, Our Heroes Appreciation Day on August 9th, and a smattering of happy hours and tennis clinics with the professional players. With such an exciting send off to summer many people forget to take care of themselves while attending the Citi Open. Below are some tips to stay safe while still having fun.
- Drink Water: We know. You know. Everyone knows that the number one habit people need to maintain is drinking lots of water in order to combat heat exhaustion and dehydration, but we always forget. When walking around at these outdoor events you might not notice how much the sun is beating down on you or how much you’re sweating. When you’re watching a tennis match the heat is 100 times worse due to the metal stands and hard courts reflecting the sun. In order to overcome these factors try to stay away from sweet drinks like soda or alcohol. These will only serve to dehydrate you and make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Pack a Lunch: Besides the fact that food will be overpriced you need to watch the types of food you’re consuming when outside for long periods of time. For example, ice cream is going to have the same effect as a Diet Coke, and will dehydrate you faster. Try to pack nuts, cheese, or fruits to snack on when you’re at an outside event. Fruits have natural sugar and water in them to replenish your body’s supply. Nuts are full of protein, and for once the salted ones have an added bonus- the salt will allow you to retain all of the water you’re drinking for longer. Finally, cheese fills you, has protein and calcium, and will prevent you from reaching for those scrumptious sweets.
- Go Window Shopping: At Citi Open there is a huge tent that sells tennis outfits, players’ merchandize, and funky souvenirs. This tent is 100% air conditioned and when you walk in, it’s like the polar plunge evaporated and hugged you. The reason this is important is because every hour you should try to spend 15 minutes in the shade or in air conditioning in order to regulate your body’s temperature. While drinking water is the most helpful, if you don’t try to keep your body temperature at a regular level, you’ll stew and get sick. If you can’t find a seat in the shade, go window shop with Roger Federer hats or “Vamos Rafa” t-shirts.
- Meet Players: Safety aside, one amazing thing about Citi Open is the exposure attendees get of the players. All of these superstars walk to their matches on the same pathways you’re walking to watch them. Besides getting a hot new profile picture or signed tennis ball (or the occasional broken racket) moving will also help regulate and lower your body temperature.
Lleyton Hewitt walking outside the Stadium entrance.
- Fore!! : Anywhere people walk, especially outside, people trip. It is the Murphy’s Law of this world. When you’re walking around Citi Open keep your eyes peeled. Not only can the pathways be treacherous and under maintained, there will be lots of people walking around, stopping for pictures or to watch matches, and of course flying tennis balls. Dodging them as they sail towards you is hard enough (especially when those pesky ballkids come and ask for the ball back)* but noticing the ones rolling on the ground is even harder. Watch out for tennis balls and pick up any that you can find, players will always sign them if they have time!
If you love tennis or are just looking for that last shindig before school starts up, the Citi Open is happening from August 1st-9th. Go support our Americans Isner, Brengle, and Querrey but remember to be safe and conscientious of your body and its needs!
Oh, and last but certainly not least, look for our very own receptionist and legal assistant, Ally Freeland, who will be serving her 7th year as a ballgirl. You’ll know it’s her because she can’t catch tennis balls. Good luck next week!
John Isner and Ally in 2008, #tbt
Ally volunteering in 2013!
*Please click on that hyperlink. You will not regret it.