When I went to New York last summer for the US Open, I met a man in the metro that was telling me how fortunate I was to have enough money to attend the event. He told me that it was really hard to afford for local people, and I explained him that cheaper tickets to the big tennis events exist if you can’t spend too much money on them.
In this article, I will present a few tips to see great tennis at a fairly low price. Since I am in Montreal and am currently buying tickets for the Rogers Cup, examples that support my arguments will be about this specific tournament.
1. Attend the Qualifying Tournament
The first way to save money on tennis tickets is to attend the qualifying rounds of the tournament. They are way cheaper, and there are a lot less people in general on site.
Another very cool thing about qualifying rounds is that you can see the highest-ranked players practice from very close because there aren’t many people in attendance.
I believe Masters 1000 events are the tournaments for which qualifying rounds are the most interesting, because almost all of the qualifying draw is made of top-100 players. For instance, for the 2017 Rogers Cup, players such as Donald Young, Marcos Baghdatis, Daniil Medvedev, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Ernests Gulbis, Frances Tiafoe and Jared Donaldson should play in the qualifying rounds, so we can expect some very interesting matches.
Qualifying Rounds at the Upcoming Rogers Cup
If I look specifically at the Rogers Cup event:
- The qualifying rounds (August 4 to August 6) will be free to the public;
- Many celebrities will attend activities to kickoff the event;
- Sponsors will give away some free stuff to the public.
For all these reasons, qualifying rounds at the Rogers Cup are a very nice activity, especially for a casual tennis fan who does not want to pay good money to attend the event.
2. Buy Tickets for the First Few Rounds of a Tournament
To me, there are many reasons why the first few rounds are very appealing when I look to buy tickets. Firstly, they are way cheaper than tickets for quarterfinals, semifinals or finals. If we take for example the Rogers Cup, the cheapest ticket would be $25 in the 1st round, and $93.50 for the quarterfinals. And we are talking about seats in the furthest section; if you really want to be in the match then those tickets might not be the right fit for you. Nonetheless, the price difference between the first few rounds and the latest stages of a tournament is significant.
Secondly, what I really like about the first few rounds is that many matches are being played at the same time, on different courts. That means that you can move from one court to another in order to watch the best match possible. If three different matches are being played at the same time, you have better chances of catching a memorable match than if there is only one played at a specific moment. Plus, even in the latter stages of a tournament, beat ups can happen, so buying tickets for those matches does not guarantee you better matches at all.
3. Stay Away from Center Court
This principle applies to pretty much all ATP and WTA events you can attend. Stay away from the most expensive court! If you want the best value ticket available, I recommend you to buy a ticket that does not grant access to the main court.
Firstly, center court is more expensive. Again, if I compare tickets for the 1st round at the Rogers Cup, prices will vary between $25 (very far from the court) to $235 (private lodge) for the center court, and from $20 to $25 for the secondary court (Banque Nationale).
Secondly, with a $25 ticket on the secondary court, you will be right behind the players, very close to the action, whereas you would be very far at that price on center court. And, on the first days of the tournament, while top guys (Murray, Federer) and local heroes (Raonic) will play on center court, you might have some very interesting players (in the likes of Tsonga, Berdych, Zverev) from very close for $20-$25.
I used the Rogers Cup as an example, but the same can be said about any tournament. At the US Open, tickets for the Arthur Ashe stadium are crazy expensive, and the cheapest tickets are very far from the action. Buy ground tickets and walk on the site to attend other matches on the side courts. Those can be amazing!
This is an example of a fantastic match that I got to see while on side courts at the US Open 2016. Lucas Pouille came back from 2 sets to love to defeat Marco Chiudinelli. He then proceeded to beat Bautista Agut and Nadal, also in 5 sets, to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. On the other hand, here is the view that we had with our tickets on Arthur Ashe:
We chose not to stay very long there to be able to watch a much tighter match, in much better seats. Watching Murray beat Granollers quite easily from that far was not a bargain for us; we chose to leave the stadium and sit elsewhere.
Finally, when days come to an end, tournament organizers often allow all ticket holders to go on center court to see the final matches, when there are less spectators on site. However, this is not always the case, so if you are lucky enough, you might be able to enter the center court without holding center court tickets!
In short, unless you want to see a specific player when you attend a tournament, opt for the secondary courts. Most of the best matches of a tournament are going to be played on those, and you will be able to see these matches for a portion of the price paid for a center court ticket.
4. Benefit of the Site Access as Much as Possible
This recommendation is probably the one that I communicate most often to friends that want to buy tennis tickets.
On weekdays, most people work the day, and attend the ATP/WTA event during the night. And this is perfectly fine, don’t get me wrong on that! But, did you know that you can enter the site before the time at which your session starts? So let’s say your first match starts at 7:00 PM. Confirm by looking at your ticket (see below), but you should be able to arrive earlier than this time, and maybe as early as the beginning of the day session (which is the case at the Rogers Cup). This will give you the chance to watch matches for free (on any non-reserved seat).
Day Session Tickets?
If you have tickets for the day session, then it is the contrary: after the day session comes to an end, you can stay for the night session on any non-reserved seat. Unfortunately, there are usually less matches being played on side courts during night sessions, but you might still be able to catch a match here and there. Some tournaments will play doubles match on side courts on night sessions, so that can be a good way to end your tennis day.
This sums up the tips I found to attend ATP/WTA tournaments without having to spend hundreds of dollars in the process. Do you have any other tricks that you would like to share? I would be very pleased to know how you buy your tennis tickets!