Sports Listings: Plan Ahead

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The Independent Online
The tennis at Wimbledon is reaching a memorable conclusion, but the final Grand Slam tournament of the season, the United States Open at Flushing Meadow, New York, beckons in the late summer. First played in 1881 as the national championships, this year's competition will be held from 31 August to 13 September. Stefan Edberg and Monica Seles defend their titles.

It went open in 1968 when the American Arthur Ashe, an amateur, beat the Dutchman Tom Okker, a professional, in the men's singles final. Ashe won a medal and Okker scooped the top prize of dollars 14,000. Virginia Wade won the women's final, beating Billie Jean King to the dollars 6,000 reward. Nowadays the prize-money is equal, Edberg and Seles each earning dollars 400,000 last year.

In 1978 the championships moved to Flushing Meadow in the Borough of Queens, about 10 miles east of Manhattan. The Forest Hills facility was no longer large enough and did not have the parking space to cope with rising demand. The Unites States Tennis Association (USTA) is presently negotiating with New York City to lease land adjacent to the Tennis Center to extend facilities.

A limited amount of tickets are available at the ground and through Ticketmaster. The USTA no longer sell tickets by post. There are two sessions daily until the later rounds: the morning play starts at 11am until about 5.30pm and in the evening, matches begin at 7.35pm. Two matches on both the Stadium and Grandstand courts will be played under floodlights. There are no ground tickets, but a seat in either of the two main courts allows access to games on the outer courts.

Both singles finals and the men's semi-finals have sold out, but seats are available for the women's semi-finals. Other tickets remaining are the night sessions from 31 August to 2 September and from 6 to 9 September and the day sessions from 8 to 11 September. Prices start at dollars 12.

For those wishing to buy a package tour, Belmont Conventions, of Belmont, Surrey, offers a trip to the second week of the tournament, including return flight, seven nights accommodation at one of the official players' hotels and tickets of your choice. The cost, excluding tickets, is pounds 725 per person. Ticket prices start at pounds 25 for Tuesday, 8 September rising to pounds 35 for the men's final on Sunday, 13 September. Belmont are unable to sell tickets only and they can organise packages for the first week, details on request.

Flushing Meadow can be reached from Manhattan by subway, the No 7 line, to Point Wyllets station, which is the stop for Shea stadium, the home of the New York Mets baseball team, for dollars 1.25. Long Island Rail Road runs trains from Penn Station, 7th Avenue and 33rd Street, to Shea Stadium on the Port Washington line. The journey time is 20 minutes and costs dollars 3 off peak single. Taxis from Manhattan cost about dollars 25 depending on the traffic as meters keep running.

The New York Visitors Bureau can help with accommodation and tours of the city. They can also send a hotel guide, given notice.

US Open, Flushing Meadow, New York, 31 August to 13 September.

Box Office: 010 1 718 271 5100. Credit card bookings: Ticketmaster 010 1 212 307 7171.

Belmont Conventions, 17 Station Road, Belmont, Surrey SM2 6BX (Tel: 081-661 1818).

New York Visitors Bureau, 2 Columbus Circle, 59th Street/Broadway (Tel: 010 1 212 397 8222).

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