WAG Weekly declares “Open” season on tennis and polo

Summer may be waning, but it always goes out with a sporting bang in WAG country.

This weekend marks the return of the US Open, with Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day – a fan and player favorite – kicking things off Saturday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. When the action gets underway in earnest Monday – it runs through Sept. 11 – spectators will no doubt be as fascinated by the What as by the Who. Stars like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will vie for headlines with the new retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, a cocoon of steel, concrete and fabric that takes only about 10 minutes to close. It’s part of an approximately $600 million overhaul that includes a new Grandstand Stadium and an adjacent area with 10 new courts and more greenery and amenities.

The White Plains-based USTA invited us recently – along with other members of the media, sponsors and staffers to a demonstration/inauguration of the roof on a beautiful day. http://www.wagmag.com/skys-the-limit-for-engineering-spectacular/ We have to say that the closed roof makes an enormous difference, transforming Arthur Ashe into a cooler, quieter, more intimate space.

More important, it will no doubt be a drier one as well.

For more, visit usopen.org and usta.com. And for more on the tennis center’s transformation, check out WAG’s August “Celebrate and Exhale” issue.

Tennis, however, is not the only game in town this weekend.  The United States Polo Association (USPA), the national governing body for the sport of polo, and Greenwich Polo Club, in partnership with Audi of America and its 29 tristate Audi dealers, will present the 2016 East Coast Open, which takes place Sundays Aug. 28 through Sept. 11 at Greenwich Polo Club. Considered to be one of the most prestigious polo competitions in the United States, the East Coast Open features eight of polo’s top teams competing in a 20-goal tournament.

“The East Coast Open offers competition at the top level of the sport, featuring the best teams, players and horses,” said Peter M. Brant, founder of Greenwich Polo Club and patron of the White Birch polo team. “With the USPA, we’ve ushered in a new era for this storied tournament with teams coming from around the country to compete at Greenwich Polo Club. We are delighted to host all the teams and expect a great tournament.”

“The East Coast Open is a fantastic event that exposes the sport of polo to the New York City metropolitan area – one of the greatest sports markets across the country,” said USPA Chairman Joe Meyer. “Each year the high level of competition continues to impress – building upon its reputation as one of our most distinguished tournaments.”

The East Coast Open is expected to draw more than 10,000 spectators, offering luxe brands high visibility in an elegant and social sports setting. Audi and Town & Country will host beautifully outfitted VIP hospitality tents, while Shreve, Crump & Low – the official sponsor of the championship trophy, the Perry Cup – will provide trophies and gifts to players during the awards presentation at the end of each match.

Meanwhile, fans can get into the act, competing for prizes in the Super Secret Mystery Box Giveaway Challenge as well as the halftime stomping of the divots, sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue Greenwich in celebration of its first stand-alone 10022-SHOE shore,  opening Oct. 20. (Other luxury brand partners include Airstream, Argentina Tourism, Edmiston Yachts, the Hospital for Special Surgery, Lancôme, Luxury Seekers and Wheels Up.)

Geoffrey Zakarian’s The National – a Greenwich Avenue fixture – will have a pop-up bar on the polo grounds serving polo-inspired cocktails made with ingredients that include Indi Tonic and fine liquors such as Beluga Noble Russian Vodka – the official vodka of Greenwich Polo Club. From 2 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the pop-up bar, Chef Geoffrey will sign copies of his newest cookbook, “My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients” ($35). Beluga Noble Russian Vodka will host tastings for polo fans through a pop-up bar. Each match will also feature delicacies from the best regional food trucks.

Founded in Rhode Island, the East Coast Open dates from 1905 and was played until World War I. It had a renaissance in 1978 when Donald Little, then president of the USPA and captain of the Myopia Polo Club, resurrected the tournament and brought it to Myopia Polo Club in South Hamilton, Mass., where it was played until the early 2000s. At its height, 13 teams played in the 16-20 goal tournament, including many 10-goal players who have inspired a number of today’s players to pick up their mallets.

The USPA will stream all tournament matches on ChukkerTV.com. (Check out uspolo.org for tournament information, schedule and updates.) Fans can also relive the championship match by tuning in to NBC Sports Network on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m. The 60-minute national broadcast will feature match action, behind-the-scenes commentary and interviews with polo players and notable figures from the global polo community. Last year’s tournament had one of the largest polo viewerships, with an audience of 183,000 on NBC Sports Network and 50,000 streaming views.

The gates open at 1 p.m., with matches at 3 p.m. The field address is 1 Hurlingham Drive. For more information and tickets, visit greenwichpoloclub.com. And for an in-depth look at polo great Nacho Figueras, who got a start at Greenwich Polo, check out WAG’s August “Celebrate and Exhale” issue. – written and edited by Georgette Gouveia

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