Help Wanted (No Pay, Great Perks!)

Back in March, I was lucky enough to go to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA. The trip was a gift from my husband for a significant, evenly-divisible-by-ten birthday. (Let’s just leave it at that.)

During one match, a couple sat down next to us, and we started talking. Turns out they were volunteering at the tournament, something they’d done for a number of years. They explained to me how it worked.

Every March, they load up the car and drive the 1,200 miles from Seattle to Indian Wells. They rent a house with some tennis-loving friends and settle in for two weeks.

Over the course of that time, this couple and the other volunteers work for 48 hours, each shift lasting four to five hours. Volunteers work as drivers for the players and officials, staffers in the information booths and stadium club suites, special event assistants, ticket scanners, and many other roles.

In exchange for this, volunteers can sit in any unoccupied seat at the tournament–and, as at many tennis tournaments, there were plenty of top-notch empty seats. They get a behind-the-scenes look at the running of the tournament and even receive a per diem allowance for food during their shifts.

And when they weren’t at the tournament, this couple and their friends shopped in Palm Springs, hiked in the Indian Canyons, and, of course, played tennis. Sounds like an amazing couple of weeks!

After speaking with them, I decided to look for similar volunteer opportunities a little closer to home. Here’s what I found:

Hall of Fame Open
Location: Newport, RI
Tournament dates: 7/15-7/22
Volunteer application period: Now open
Last year’s champion: John Isner
Number of shifts required: 4
Positions available: Drivers and ushers
Perks: Four complimentary tickets for a day you’re not volunteering; Hall of Fame apparel; meals, snacks, and beverages during shifts; post-event volunteer party
How to apply: Go to www.halloffameopen.com
**Note: I was unable to confirm this information with the tournament. This information comes from the website.

Connecticut Open
Location: New Haven, CT
Tournament dates: 8/17-8/25
Volunteer application period: Now open
Last year’s champion: Daria Gavrilova
Number of shifts required: 6
Positions available: Player services (driving players on golf carts within venue); press attendant; transportation (shuttles and private tournament vehicles); usher; general (varying duties throughout the week); Fit Zone attendant (assisting with games and activities in the Fit Zone). Player services and press attendant roles fill quickly. Other areas always need more volunteers.
Perks: Access to all tennis matches while not on duty, plus two tickets to four early-round sessions; two shirts, a hat, and a long-sleeve pullover; meals while volunteering.
How to apply: Go to ctopen.org

U.S. Open
Location: Flushing Meadows, NY
Tournament dates: 8/27-9/9
Volunteer application period: Starts 5/1
Last year’s champions: Rafael Nadal and Sloane Stephens
Number of shifts required: 3
Positions available: Various areas including volunteer lounge, line management, US Open Bookstore, USTA Foundation, Arthur Ashe Kids Day.
Perks: The official I spoke with could not provide exact information on the benefits offered for 2018 volunteers, saying only that the information is provided with assignments. She did say that volunteers are not given stadium tickets. The U.S. Open website lists the following perks for volunteers for 2017: Grounds access, shirt, hat, and meal or meal voucher.
How to apply: Go to usopen.org or contact usopenvolunteers@usta.com

*Photo by Joe Y. Jiang, licensed through Creative Commons.

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