US Open National Playoffs Start Today in New Haven
21 Aug, 2015
The USTA announced the 16 men and 16 women who will compete in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Singles Championships, held Aug. 21-24 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Conn. The tournament is held in conjunction with the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, the final Emirates Airline US Open Series women’s event of the summer.
The respective men’s and women’s US Open National Playoffs winners will receive a wild card into the 2015 US Open Qualifying Tournament, held Aug. 25-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., the home of the US Open.
In all, 1,154 players (762 men and 392 women) competed in the sixth year of the US Open National Playoffs in singles at one of 14 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments held throughout the United States, with the winners and select runners-up qualifying for the Championships. The US Open National Playoffs are designed to bring the spirit of the US Open to cities and sections across the country, making the US Open eligible to anyone and everyone 14 and over with the passion to compete, regardless of playing ability or nationality.
The US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship field includes (player, age, hometown and sectional qualifying tournament):
The US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Singles Championship field includes (player, age, hometown and sectional qualifying tournament):
Men’s Preview: Three men competing in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship have competed at the US Open: Joel Kielbowicz (2014 mixed doubles), Nikita Kryvonos (2004, 2006 and 2007 qualifying; 2005 men’s doubles; 2002 and 2004 juniors) and Jesse Witten (2006 and 2009 singles; five times in qualifying).
Nearly all of the participants have played collegiate tennis. In fact, half of this year’s field will be playing college tennis this fall: Dusty Boyer (Nebraska), Felix Corwin (Minnesota), Henry Craig (Denver), Josh Hagar (Notre Dame), Martin Joyce (Ohio State), Michael Kay (Georgia Tech), Victor Pham (Columbia) and Terrell Whitehurst (Florida State). Three of the entrants are foreign-born players who have already excelled at the collegiate level: Mikelis Libietis of Latvia (an All-American at Tennessee), Hleb Maslau of Belarus (North Florida) and Matija Pecotic of Malta (an All-American at Princeton). In addition, Kielbowicz (UNLV), Tony Larson (St. Cloud State), Chris Wettengel (Minnesota) and Witten (Kentucky) were also college standouts.
Seven of these players will be participating in at least one other US Open National Playoffs championship event. Boyer, Larson, Libietis, Wettengel and Witten will be competing in either the Men’s Doubles Championship or the Mixed Doubles Championship, along with the Men’s Singles Championship, while Maslau and Kielbowicz have qualified for all three events.
The oldest player in the Men’s Singles Championship is Wettengel at 33, who has won five Playoffs’ sectional qualifiers in the last six years. Pham is the youngest player in the field at 17.
Women’s Preview: Six women will be vying for a chance to return to the US Open stage after competing at the US Open previously: Gail Brodsky (2008 and 2009 singles), Jacqueline Cako (2014 mixed doubles), Julia Elbaba (2010 and 2011 juniors), Kaitlyn McCarthy (2013 juniors), Ayaka Okuno (2011, 2012 and 2013 juniors) and Ashley Weinhold (2006 mixed and women’s doubles; 2007 singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles; 2006, 2011 and 2012 qualifying).
Six of the women competing in the Women’s Singles Championship will be participating in multiple events at this year’s US Open National Playoffs Championships. Brodsky, Sara Daavettila, Carol Finke and Okuno will be playing in two events, while Cako and Alexis Nelson will be taking part in all three championship events open to women: singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
Cako, a former Arizona State University All-American, is the only woman at the US Open National Playoffs Championship who is a past champion; she teamed with Kielbowicz last year to win the Mixed Doubles Championship. Nelson, a rising senior at Harding High School in St. Paul, Minn., is the youngest player in the competition at age 17. She is joined by teenagers Sophie Chang, 18; Paige Cline, 18; Daavettila, 17; Finke, 19; and McCarthy, 17.
The oldest players in the Women’s Singles Championship are Jennifer Elie and Nika Kukharchuk, who are both 28 years old and who have both been here before. Elie competed in the Women’s Singles Championship last year while Kukharchuk advanced past the sectional qualifying tournament in 2012 and 2013.
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with more than 715,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Emirates Airline US Open Series, linking seven summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns approximately 90 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S. and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA’s philanthropic entity, the USTA Foundation, provides grants and scholarships and helps under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities, and supports wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans and their families. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page, facebook.com/usta, or follow @usta on Twitter.