2010 Winner Strode Headlines 2011 US Open National Playoffs Finals in New Haven

August 17, 2011 03:03 PM
Blake Strode, coming out of USTA New England, will look to become a two-time US Open National Playoffs champion.
The USTA announced today the 16 men and 15 women who will compete in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Championships, August 18-21, at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Conn. The tournament is held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, the final Olympus US Open Series women’s event of the summer. The respective men’s and women’s winners will receive a wild card into the 2011 US Open Qualifying Tournament, held Aug. 23-26, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., the home of the US Open.

Nearly 1,000 men and women (690 men and 306 women) competed in the second year of the US Open National Playoffs in singles at one of 16 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments.  Fifteen women’s champions will compete in New Haven (the USTA Florida champion has withdrawn), while 14 of the 16 men’s champions advanced (the runners-up for the other two sections will compete in New Haven). 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, regardless of playing ability or nationality. Mixed doubles was added this year, and the Mixed Doubles Championship will take place in New Haven, Aug. 24-27, with the winning team earning a wild card into the main draw of the 2011 US Open.

"We have had another successful year of the US Open National Playoffs and are excited to reach the Men’s and Women’s Championships after a summer of strong tennis," says Jeff Ryan, Tournament Director, US Open National Playoffs. "There is an impressive field in New Haven and we look forward to watching two of these singles players achieve their dreams of competing in the US Open."

The competitors in the Men’s and Women’s Championships include three former NCAA champions, five players who have been ranked in the Top 100 in singles, six teenagers, and four players who are over 30 years old. Eight have competed in the US Open, either in qualifying or the main draw. Seedings were based on last week’s ATP World Tour and WTA Rankings.
 
The US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship field includes:
 
- Charlie Cutler; 24; Portland, OR (USTA Pacific Northwest)
- David Martin; 30; Tulsa, OK (USTA Southern)
- Oleg Dmitriev; 27; Dania Beach, FL (USTA Florida)
- Juan Moreiras; 17; San Antonio, TX (USTA Texas)
- Steve Erickson; 23; Emerson, NJ (USTA Eastern)
- Angelo Niculescu; 30; Lake Oswego, OR (USTA Hawaii)
- Angelo Faustino; 22; Littleton, CO (USTA Intermountain)
- Eric Quigley; 22; Pewee Valley, KY (USTA Midwest)
- Damon Gooch; 25; Bethesda, MD (USTA Mid-Atlantic)
- Blake Strode; 24; Saint Charles, MO (USTA New England)
- Nathan Healey; 31; Wyomissing, PA (USTA Middle States)
- Bojan Temunovic; 22; Scottsdale, AZ (USTA Southwest)
- Tony Larson; 27; Brooklyn Park, MN (USTA Northern)
- Chris Wettengel; 29; Las Vegas, NV (USTA No. California)
- Cecil Mamiit; 35; South Pasadena, CA (USTA Southern California)
- Jackson Withrow; 18; Omaha, NE (USTA Missouri Valley)
 
The US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Championship field includes:

- Robin Anderson; 18; Matawan, NJ (USTA Middle States)
- Amanda McDowell; 23; Atlanta, GA (USTA Southern)
- Vasilisa Bardina; 23; Denver, CO (USTA Intermountain)
- Skylar Morton; 17; Bethesda, MD (USTA Mid-Atlantic)
- Maureen Diaz; 29; Glendale, CA (USTA Hawaii-Pacific)
- Ashley Murdock; 23; Memphis, TN (USTA Missouri Valley)
- Megan Falcon; 26; Baton Rouge, LA (USTA Northern)
- Marie-Eve Pelletier; 29; Quebec (USTA Pacific Northwest)
- Macall Harkins; 25; Palos Verdes, CA (USTA Southern California)
- Yasmin Schnack; 23; Elk Grove, CA (USTA No. California)
- Petra Jurova; 18; Bratislava, Slovak Rep. (USTA Eastern)
- Romana Tedjakasuma; 35; Tracy, CA (USTA Midwest)
- Sylvia Kosakowski; 24; Downey, CA (USTA Southwest)
- Mashona Washington; 35; Houston, TX (USTA Texas)
- Lena Litvak; 22; New York, NY (USTA New England)
 
The men’s draw features defending champion and No. 1 seed Blake Strode, who last year reached the second round of qualifying at the US Open. Last week, Strode won his third career USTA Pro Circuit singles title at the $10,000 Futures in Edwardsville, Ill.  He is currently ranked No. 447 in the ATP Rankings. The former University of Arkansas all-American and Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award winner again deferred Harvard Law School for another year to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis. Also returning is last year’s runner-up Cecil Mamiit, the 1996 NCAA champion who has competed in the main draw of all four Grand Slam tournaments and currently plays for and captains the Philippines’ Davis Cup team.

Other competitors include former Stanford standout David Martin, the No. 2 seed, and Nathan Healey, both experienced veterans who are best known for their doubles play, as well as University of Kentucky star Eric Quigley, 2011 USTA Boys’ 18s Nationals doubles champion Jackson Withrow and former collegiate standouts Damon Gooch, Angelo Niculescu and Chris Wettengel, who reached the semifinals at this event a year ago.

Strode, Mamiit, Niculescu, Quigley and Wettengel are all returning to the Men’s Championship for a second consecutive year. (Tony Larson qualified both years but was unable to compete in 2010.) Also, Healey, Martin and Strode will return in a week’s time to compete in the US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship.

Seven of the 16 players in the women’s field are currently ranked in the Top 500, including U.S. Fed Cup team member Mashona Washington, who reached a career-best No. 50 in 2004; Vasilisa Bardina, who peaked at No. 48 in 2007; and No. 1 seed Maria-Eve Pelletier, who is currently ranked No. 336. A contingent of former college standouts will also vie for the title, including 2008 NCAA singles champion Amanda McDowell, 2010 NCAA doubles semifinalist Yasmin Schnack, former LSU star Megan Falcon and Maureen Diaz, who finished her career at USC this spring ranked No. 3 in the country.

Three players are returning to the US Open National Playoffs for a second shot at the title—Diaz, Falcon and Indonesian Olympian Romana Tedjakusuma. Those returning in a week’s time to compete in the US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship are Diaz, Pelletier, Schnack and Skylar Morton, who has played on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Target Challenge, which she won in 2009.

The US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Championships finals are scheduled to take place on Sunday, Aug. 21, starting at 11 a.m. A one-hour documentary on the 2011 US Open National Playoffs will be broadcast on Tennis Channel, airing Monday, Sept. 12.
 

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