US Open National Playoffs: Open AuditionCourtesy: USTA.com
Blake Strode is the top seed in the men's championships
© Wesley Hitt
Former Top-100 player Cecil Mamiit played in the US Open once earlier in his career
© Getty Images
Olivier Sajous won the Florida Section's qualifying tournament
The inaugural US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championships features players—16 in all—at various stages of their careers, from collegiate stars to USTA Pro Circuit standouts to veterans of the ATP World Tour. The goal for each, however, is the same: A spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament and, with it, a shot at the main draw of the 2010 US Open.
The players advanced to the Men’s Championships—held in conjunction with the Atlanta Tennis Championships, the first event of the 2010 Olympus US Open Series—through their respective Sectional Qualifying Tournaments, held in 16 different USTA sections around the country. Many have already played as many as seven matches and now must win four more, though the competition will be stiff.
The competitors in the Men’s Championships hail from nine different countries and four different continents. Three play Davis Cup for their countries, six played collegiately last year, three are regulars on the USTA Pro Circuit, two are coaches, one is an aspiring music producer, and there is even one law student and one aspiring lawyer.
But for all their collective experience, only three—Nikita Kryvonos, Cecil Mamiit and Blake Strode—have previously played in the US Open Qualifying Tournament, and only Mamiit has appeared in the main draw.
A former Top 100 player in the world, Mamiit figures to be one the favorites at the Men’s Championships, but he will be pushed by Strode, who deferred Harvard Law School to pursue a professional career and who recently entered the Top 500 for the first time in his career. Also keep an eye on Kryvonos, a former Top-400 player who lives just minutes from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, and Eric Quigley, the collegiate All-American who could use this stage to launch his professional career. And then there is Olivier Sajous, the sentimental favorite, whose family survived the earthquake in Haiti but still has much work to do to rebuild their home—and lives—in Port-au-Prince.
The US Open National Playoffs are all about pursuing a dream, opening the doors of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to anyone and everyone, to all aspiring tennis players with a racquet and the desire to compete. From 859 men, the field has been narrowed to 16. Only one will be the inaugural US Open National Playoffs men’s champion.
Click here to see profiles of all 16 men participating in the inaugural US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championships.
To go to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championships page, click here, and to see the results from the 16 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments, click here.
US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championships at a Glance
What: The 2010 US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championships
Where: The Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Ga.
When: July 22-25 (in conjunction with the Atlanta Tennis Championships, an Olympus US Open Series event)
Who: Representatives from the 16 US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournaments (14 winners, 2 runners-up)
The Seeds: Four players will be seeded, based on the ATP World Tour rankings as of July 12. The seeds are as follows: 1. Blake Strode; 2. Cecil Mamiit; 3. Olivier Sajous; 4. Chris Wettengel.
Follow the Action: The final of the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championships will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel on Sunday, July 25, sponsored by Olympus.
The Skinny: This is the inaugural year of the US Open National Playoffs. The US Open National Playoffs function as a series of tournaments held throughout the United States to make the US Open eligible to anyone and everyone 14-and-over with the passion to compete. More than 800 men played in the 16 US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournaments, with the winners advancing to the Men’s Championships. The winner of the Men’s Championships earns a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held August 24-27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., home of the US Open.