5 takeaways from a Western and Southern Open first-timer

This week I had my first Western and Southern Open experience. 

Although it was cut short by a nasty rain storm, I saw enough to convince me I need to make a return trip. 

Here are my top takeaways from my visit: 

1. I got to Mason around lunch time, and the first thing I grabbed was some ice cream because I'm an adult. 

The Graeter’s turtle sundae really hit the spot, giving me the energy to seek out actual tennis. 

I found it at Stadium 3, where Yuichi Sugita rallied from a first-set loss to beat Karen Khachanov 7-6, 6-3, 6-3. 

They were followed by Caroline Wozniacki and Ashleigh Barty in another third-round singles match. 

2. Even if you’re not a tennis fanatic, the Lindner Family Tennis Center is pretty much a paradise of sports and capitalism. 

You can get a tan, eat ribs and ice cream and get your competition fix at any one of a half-dozen courts.

Plus the competitors are world class, as evidenced more by the list of past winners than this year’s draw. 

And if metal bleachers aren’t your style, you can watch from lounge chairs in the middle of the grounds set up in front of four giant television screens. 

3. In the time it took me to eat a pulled pork sandwich, Wozniacki rallied from an early deficit to win the first set and the first two games of the second. 

She rolled from there, finishing off Barty 6-2 in the second set. 

A pretty respectable portion of Saratoga chips and BBQ sauce from Montgomery Inn accompanied my sandwich, and I shared a table with a guy who seemed to think it looked better than his crab cake sandwich. 

Fusian, Skyline Chili, Flip Side Burgers, Mazunte, Prime Cincinnati and of course LaRosa’s were also among the venders. 

4. I did not sample any, but it appeared just about any drink you could imagine was also available. 

That includes pure hard seltzer, which seems like the perfect drink for a tennis tournament 

There was also (at least one) wine stand, a tequila bar and a bar with a Michelob Ultra marquee. 

I'd say that means they know their audience, but that would be unfair. The crowd seemed like a good mix of classes and ages. 

If general Anheuser-Busch beverages aren’t your style, there was also an assortment of beers from Rhinegeist. 

5. Swag? They have swag, too. 

Of course there was a large tent full of tournament memorabilia, but the open also had a little bit of a county fair feel thanks to a variety of booths offering all sorts of items and services. 

Need a 60-second eye lift? This is the place. 

Belts with pockets? They had those, too. (I think this was a Seinfeld bit once…) 

And finally, there was some sort of mystery nerve stimulation system in another booth. 

They offered a free sample, but I decided to pass. 

Maybe next year? 

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