Five Signs: You’re in the USTA National Tennis Center

Geography Essay
Photos and captions by Nathan Mattise

College (and post-college limbo) is a time for excessive sleeping, partying, *studying*…. and traveling. It’s one of the finer points of college because there are no real commitments to hold you back. So in the spirit of good roadtrip, In the Pursuit of the Trivial offers the Five Signs series. It’s a photo-documentary account from an exotic location done through the signs ready to greet every and all tourists. Today, welcome to (Flushing, NY) the USTA National Tennis Center – home of the US Open.

So two non-cities in a row? Well it’s not everyday you get to travel to the US Open and for any sports fan (maybe even the non-sports fan) it’s certainly a sight worth seeing. Trust me and see for yourself…

1. “USTA National Tennis Center”
(or “South Plaza”)

This is probably the more grandiose image that first greets any visitor to the Open, but it’ll still send chills down your spine to see Arthur Ashe Stadium in the background when entering the grounds. The sign should actually read the “USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center” because it was renamed for the famous women’s tennis champion two years ago.

2. “No Standing”

Yep, that’s 22,547 folks sitting and enjoying a night match at the US Open’s featured court. (All right, maybe the stadium wasn’t filled to capacity for Blake v. Fish but you get the point – this place is huge). It’s the largest tennis venue in the world by almost 6,000 people. If you get your ticket for this court, you get access everywhere (though the night matches are a separate ticket).

3. “J-Block”

Speaking of James Blake, he’s from the area (Yonkers in particular). This means he’s the hometown favorite at the Open and his matches feature his special cheering section – the J-Block (sponsored by Nike apparently). No word on whether his highschool classmate John Mayer or sportswriter Bill Simmons (see 7/10 podcast) were in the 2008 US Open J-Block.

4. “Oreo”

The primary focus of this photo is definitely Andy Murray and one of the best things about the Open is definitely people watching (I saw Tsonga and Davenport hanging around). However, it’s impossible to ignore all of the sponsor logos everywhere (even if you do get some sweet swag). One of my favorite images from the open combines both sponsor and people-watching however.

5. “I ❤ Arthur”

If you can’t make it to the Open often, you better take advantage and grab a t-shirt. Rafa actually has a cool one and there was a USamA one for Querrey that caught my eye too. However, Arthur Ashe is US tennis and he’s appropriately homaged at the Open. He has the stadium, the foundation (to further AIDS research among other things) and sweet t-shirts like the one above. He’s a three-time major champion, a contributor to Time magazine and has an ESPY award for courage named after him. Wow.

And that’s it from Flushing, N.Y. and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. This time there are no signs below that didn’t quite make the cut, but I’ll make sure to keep you posted on the next adventure..

(Links today from Wikipedia, Nike, US Open online and

If you want to yell at Nate for this idea because it’s dumb, e-mail him. If you’re mad because this isn’t a location, you can’t let him know that too.


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Filed under Essays, Geography

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