I have a friend who watches every single game of the NY Mets. I guess that’s one way to spend your Retirement.

     But I am not much of a sports fan. I don’t watch baseball or hockey or basketball. I never watched much football, either, until we moved to the Philadelphia area the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl. However, since then the Eagles have faded, and so my interest in football has faded as well.

     But one sport I like to watch is tennis — at least the majors. The U. S. Open starts next week. This past week brought us the qualifying matches, which give 128 young, lower ranked players a chance to get into the tournament. If a player wins three qualifying matches he or she will earn a place in the main draw.

     This is the first year the qualifying rounds have been open to the public since before Covid, in 2019. So I arranged to meet up with my son — a former college tennis player who lives in Brooklyn — to catch the action on Thursday. We like to go to the qualifiers, even though we don’t see the big names, because it’s free (instead of costing hundreds of dollars), and it’s not crowded so we can sit right up close to the court (instead of 20 or 30 rows back).

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Fans file in and out past banners of past champions

     So I drove over to Hamilton, NJ, took New Jersey transit to Penn Station, then the Long Island railroad to the stadium. I left home at 8 a.m. and arrived just before 11, in time to rendezvous with my son and see the matches start.

     We saw a young American amateur Ethan Quinn (Ranked 506), a freshman at the University of Georgia, lose to a more seasoned player from Argentina. American Zach Svajda (Ranked 306), lost to a Swiss. But American Brandon Holt (Ranked 296) upset a higher-ranked player from Ecuador. And we saw Chris Eubanks (Ranked 147) beat a pro from France.

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Holt hammers a serve

     Both Holt and Eubanks went on to win their matches on Friday. So both of these young men will be playing in the main tournament, which starts on Monday and continues to the finals — the women’s final on Sept. 10 and the men’s on Sunday, Sept. 11. 

     You probably won’t see Holt or Eubanks in the finals. More likely it will be Rafael Nadal, defending champ Daniil Medvedev or possibly the young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who we saw play as a 21-year-old qualifier when we went to the Open in 2019.

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Banks ready to return

     The women’s finals might feature Serena Williams — she has announced her Retirement and this is the last major tournament for her — or more likely defending champ Emma Raducanu from England or Iga Swiatek from Poland, or possibly American Coco Gauff.

     Just in case you want to know about those other sports . . . current betting gives the Eagles a pretty good chance of getting to the playoffs — better odds than the Saints or the Seahawks, not as good as defending champs LA Rams or the current favorites the Buffalo Bills.

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I also like watching the planes come into LaGuardia airport

     And as for the baseball World Series at the end of October? The LA Dodgers are favored — with the Yankees, the Houston Astros and the NY Mets (yes, the Mets who are in first place!) given a decent chance. I’ll have to put that on my calendar because honestly, otherwise I’d probably forget.  And I promise — that’s all the sports you’ll get from me.

Tom Lashnits Writer, Blogger