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August 25, 2012 / SoniaLMT

Working at the US Open

I’ve mentioned that my schedule is pretty busy these couple of weeks because of the US Open, and a lot of people have asked me what it’s like working there, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it!

Back in 2008 I was flipping channels and came across the US Open. I’d never really paid attention to tennis before, and had no idea that one of the biggest tennis tournaments of the year was held right here in Queens! I mentioned it at work the next day and discovered that two of my coworkers worked there, and I asked if they could hook me up with an interview for the following year. They did, and I started working at the Open in 2009.

The massage therapists are separated by gender, so I only work on the female players and have no idea how things work on the men’s side of things. The massage room is located inside the women’s locker room, which makes us one of the few people aside from the players who are actually allowed to enter the locker room (the only others being the WTA physiotherapists and the cleaning staff. No coaches, no family- this is the players’ space).  There are four massage tables in the room, and usually four or five MTs working at a time (the extra person usually helps out the physios). Each MT has a sign up sheet, and players can sign up for either 25 or 55 minute massages with the therapist of their choice, if they have any open slots- they fill up quickly!

The first day the massage therapists showed up to work this year was Saturday August 18th, even though the tournament itself doesn’t start until the 27th. This is because prior to the actual event, there is a four day long qualifying tournament (Tuesday-Friday, which is free to the public every year!), and players show up earlier to get some practice in. Qualies week is actually our busiest week, because there are SO many players who are all trying to make the tournament and they all want to take advantage of the massages!

Most of the massage therapists are done working before the actual tournament is half way over, because the fewer players there are, the less MTs they need. I’m working six shifts this year (which is average), and only half of them are during the tournament itself. Once the tournament reaches quarterfinals (the latest I’ve worked there), the locker room is practically empty, so the wheelchair players arrive around then. I’ve had the pleasure of working on some of those players as well, and they’re a fun group.

I basically work at the Open on what would otherwise be days off, so it’s a really busy 2-3 weeks for me every year. But I always look forward to it, because it’s such a cool experience, getting to see the tournament from an insider’s perspective (and you know, using my credentials to watch a bunch of free tennis and not have to pay $5 for a bottle of water). I’ve become a pretty big tennis fan since I started working there, and it’s cool to come to work and see some of the world’s greatest athletes up close and in person.

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One Comment

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  1. judyyiujudy / Aug 25 2012 4:27 pm

    Awesome post! I love reading about the behind the scenes mechanics like this!

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