How The Tennis Pros Party In New York City Before The US Open

The 2017 US Open Tennis Championship, taking place August 28 through September 10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, is upon us. The pros are already in New York City, adjusting to the time zone and the summer heat.

If you assume they are spending their last few days before the grand slam only eating healthy, practicing their serves, and getting their beauty rest, think again. These athletes are running around New York City charming fans, socializing with sponsors, even competing in quirky sports. Here is what they are up to:

Pros Party In New York City Before The US Open

Battling in Badminton in a Palace Courtyard

The Lotte New York Palace is an iconic, luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan. They have gilded rooms with sparkling chandeliers and an expansive courtyard, definitely fit for a king. This year the property decided to hold a Palace Invitational, or a feisty badminton tournament, the Thursday before the US Open. While tennis players usually only get to compete against opponents of the same sex, The Palace decided to go co-ed,  pitting two of the great players of all time - Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams - against one another.  "I played once in my life so I'm all set," said Williams before the festivities began. "And especially in this hotel...You don't see a place like this very often, especially in the US." The crowd, which got to enjoy mini lobster rolls and flowing champagne, was decidedly pro-woman. Williams was declared the victor even though Nadal was officially up by one when the timer ran out.

Taking Selfies with Bankers 

As a big sponsor for the grand slam JPMorgan gets a few perks: lavish suites, branding in peak spots on the courts, and in-person visits from top players. On Thursday a dashing Roger Federer in a sleek suit spent some of the day at the bank's corporate headquarters in Midtown East, shaking hands with employees, signing autographs, and being photographed. JPMorgan posted an adorable photo on their Instagram feed of the player tossing tennis balls on the roof with a few executives. Their message under the photo: "We were lucky enough to host these legends on our rooftop this week. Don't hate the players... or our game!

Chowing Down on the Best New York Food

It's a  tradition for the best chefs in New York City to get together before the tournament and let the pros - and thousands of their fans - sample their best creations. The event, named Taste of Tennis, was held this year at W New York, the brand's flagship property on Lexington Ave. Chef Masaharu Morimoto made sushi, Chef Andy D’Amico grilled his famous 5 Napkin Burger, and Chef Kerry Heffernan served the same oysters as he does at Grand Banks, all from local, sustainable sources. Player Ivo Karlović , a Croatian athlete who is known for being 6"11, lingered by the Salvation Taco station and Venus Williams showed off her cooking skills on stage by doing a demonstration. 

Playing Tennis Wii While Drinking Mocktails 

The Knickerbocker Hotel decided to hold a little gathering for the players staying at their hotel in their stunning rooftop lounge named St. Loud. Pros Feliciano Lopez (#27), Roberto Bautista Agut (#18) were in attendance. The hotel entertained them with Tennis Wii - neither player could remember the last time he played Nintendo - and served them mocktails like Espresso Tonics and Black Teas topped with garnish. It's a bad idea to drink alcohol before the big tournament, said Lopez. "I can have one glass of wine at dinner two or three days before but that's it."

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