The remains of the day

“We want someone to walk away and say, Heineken has made it better.”

Pattie Falch, the brew brand’s director of sponsorships and events, is talking about Heineken House, the new fun spot at the US Open. But she might as well have been talking about Heineken’s Media Day there – a splendid experience enhanced by the weather gods, who provided bright sun and a seamless sky.

The day began fittingly enough at Heineken House, where members of our group tried their hands at games like Cornhole, in which you threw little square bean bags into raised holes bearing the Heineken logo – or at least you tried to. Heineken House, which joins the company’s revamped full-service Red Star Café, has picnic and lounge seating that, coupled with the games and a share-your-photos stand, provides visitors with a resort vibe. (Some might think Hamptons, though I’m more of a Jersey shore girl myself.) If anything can make summer linger, it’s Heineken House.

Although the Heineken USA Suite was none too shabby. Picture a bright, comfortably furnished room with a flat screen and a buffet that included an Oriental chicken salad, pasta with pesto, a Greek wheat salad, doughnuts, cookies shaped and decorated like tennis balls and a bevy of beverages including, of course, Heineken on tap. Throw in US Open program books, and we were in heaven.

Still, we ventured out into Heineken’s luxury box to watch two quarterfinal upsets – Flavia Pennetta over Roberta Vinci and Richard Gasquet over No. 4 men’s seed David Ferrer. (More on this in the next item.)

What struck me most about Arthur Ashe Stadium was just how intimate it is, particularly when you see it on TV or compare it to an arena like Yankee Stadium. And that intimacy is reinforced by the zooming camera that looks like an extraterrestrial, the rock music between points, the scoreboards that carry both the action and the players’ and announcer’s comments, the way the ball boys rush over with umbrellas to shield the players from the hot sun during breaks and the encouragement that echoes from the stands. It’s like a giant party.

The other takeaway from my busman’s holiday was just what a happy place the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is. It’s nestled in Flushing Meadows Corona Park next to the Unisphere from the 1964 New York World’s Fair and the Queens Museum of Art. Amid natural and cultural beauty and with shops selling everything from Champagne to books, how can it help but be a joyous atmosphere?

But what really makes it work are the people, folks like Anthony Vega, who works on the loading dock at the center but took the time to help me deliver a bundle of WAGs to Heineken.

People like Vega make the Open the special experience that it is – and yes, Pattie, Heineken makes it better.

For more on the Open, visit usopen.org and for more on our take on the event, check out WAG’s August “S’wellness” issue.

– Georgette Gouveia

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