Nate Chura is senior tennis pro at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn and covers the U.S. Open for WNYC.
Undeniably, one of the great pleasures of attending a sporting event is eating and drinking. Food plays a major role in the way fans experience any pro sports competition. How else would they have the energy to clap and scream and shout? And at no other sporting event is the food and drink better than at the US Open. While attending a day or night match, tennis fans can satisfy their sophisticated palettes with a wide selection of some of New York’s finest food and beverage offerings. While it may cost you a limb, you might be tempted to make the trade.
Those who crave spice can visit ‘New Delhi’ and enjoy Lamb Handi. If you want something a bit lighter, stools are available at Chef Tony Mantuano’s Wine and Food Bar.
Tennis fans too red from the mid-day sun or too cold from the evening wind can find shelter and comfort at Mojito, an enclosed bar and restaurant. You won’t miss a point inside this chic café. Flat-screen televisions are tuned to Center Court keep the spirit of the Open alive while diners enjoy $13 specialty cocktails created to embody the spirit of the US Open.
But the sweetest dining development in the US Open food complex this year is the new, South Plaza Master Chef Café, which serves a delectable variety of gourmet foods, including a champion dish by Jonathan Waxman.
This past Saturday, Waxman, owner and chef of Barbuto in the Meatpacking District, won the 2010 US Open Master Chef Charity Competition. His Roast Chicken Panini with Basil Aioli and Greens topped a world-class menu of competing dishes by other top chefs including Tony Mantuano, Susan Feniger, Carmen Gonzalez and Rick Moonen. As of Day 7, Waxman had sold 2,200 paninis. Waxman’s prize for winning the competition was a $5,000 donation from the US Open to a charity of his choice, Citymeals-on-Wheels.
“I love to do two things,” said Waxman, “cook and watch tennis! It was an extreme pleasure to cook with my Top Chef Master pals and to watch the greatest sporting event in the US. Winning the contest is wonderful, but seeing Federer and Venus -- coupled with hanging with the chef buddies and raising money for Citymeals-on-Wheels -- that made this year's US Open a perfect event.”
Waxman served up a champion dish, but if you stop at the Master Chef Café this weekend, I also recommend Carmen Gonzo’s Pulled Pork Sandwich.
Back On The Tennis Court
American tennis fans had a reason to cheer Thursday afternoon. Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan won the US Open Mixed Doubles Championships. They defeated Aisam Qureshi and Kveta Peschke in straight-sets on center court in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It was really tough conditions today out there,” said Huber about the, 6-4, 6-4 win. “It was extremely windy, but we handled it better. I think one of the keys was that we could break [Qureshi] a couple of times. I just think I got lucky on some of the balls, and that made the difference for us breaking him.”
“Yeah,” added Bryan. “We hit some reflexes. We got some returns in play. Ham and eggs!”
This was the second Grand Slam doubles title for Huber and Bryan. They won the French Open Mixed Doubles title last year and have been playing together ever since. Some might wonder whether or not the mixed pair chest-bump in the signature fashion of Bob and his brother Mike Bryan after a win. Huber is not shy about setting the record straight.
“He wants to chest bump, chest bump, chest bump,” Huber jokes. “I'm like, no. Do it with your girlfriend; don't chest bump me. No, just joking. I'm just scared I will hurt myself.”
Mixed doubles fans should know, they’re working on a coed spin. So be on the lookout.
While Huber is not nearly as well known as Bob Bryan, she is an accomplished doubles player in her own right. Including her win today with Bryan, she’s won 45 career doubles titles and is the number one ranked women’s doubles player in the world, alongside her partner Cara Black.
Huber is a US citizen, but was born in South Africa and hasn’t forgotten where she comes from. And as her celebrity status grows, she hopes it enables her to do more good work beyond the tennis court.
“I think it's a good thing if we can make a lot of money and we can give back, if we can make a difference,” she says. “Right now I'm bringing a boy from South Africa; he's 11 months old and he has a vascular disease. My twin sister has a vascular disease; she is having surgery on Tuesday herself here in New York. I know there's huge problems everywhere else, but I think if everybody can help one person, it's gonna be so great.”
Qureshi will get another shot at beating Bob tomorrow, when he and his partner Rohan Bopanna square off against the Bryans for the men’s doubles title. Qureshi and Bopanna have won over fans around the globe with their Indian-Pakistani success story. So who will the crowd be cheering for tomorrow in New York?
“There's going to be a lot of Indians and Pakistanis out there,” said Bryan. “I've got to think there are more Americans in the crowd. This house is pretty patriotic, and they seem to get behind the Americans well.”
“I'm gonna say we're gonna have 51 percent in our favor tomorrow,” Bob said smiling.
Swiss Miss: Wawrinka Yields To Youzhny
Russian, Mikhail Youzhny advanced to his second US Open semifinal after vanquishing Stanislas Wawrinka (pronounced Va-Vrinka) 3-6, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. He’ll face world number one Rafael Nadal next, after the Spaniard knocked-out fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco in quarters on Thursday night: 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.