By Benjamin Snyder
As last year’s runner-up Jelena Jankovic battled against Shuai Peng of China, fans at the Western & Southern Open celebrated the service of men and women in uniform during the tournament’s Military Appreciation Night.
During the day, the Western & Southern Open welcomed service members by supplying those carrying military ID with half-price tickets. Additionally, the tournament donated 200 tickets to the Armed Forces Ticketing Association (AFTA), with which the Western & Southern Open has a "long-standing relationship."
According to AFTA’s official website, www.afta-cincinnati.org, the association’s mission is "to show appreciation to the men, women and the families of our active Armed Forces, Guard and Reserves by making available free or deeply discounted event tickets by partnering with Arts, Entertainment and Sports organizations."
The organization started serving members of the military and their families in 2008.
Rachel Zimmerman of the Cincinnati Children’s Theater performed the National Anthem before play got underway. Accompanied by her grandmother, Zimmerman sang in honor of her grandfather’s service during World War II.
Throughout the night, images of men and women serving in the Armed Forces and in attendance at the Lindner Family Tennis Center’s night matches were projected on-screen around Center Court to applause from the fans.
The President of the U.S. Naval War College, Rear Admiral John N. Christenson, came to watch matches on Tuesday night, which also featured former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.