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Players put the “Open” in USTA National Open Hard Courts

June 12, 2014 03:07 PM
Women's champion Monica Robinson
Men's champion Logan Smith
Nicole Mossmer

By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

San Diego – After an incredible week of exciting tennis, the 2014 USTA National Open Hard Court Championships came to a close on Sunday, June 8, at the historic Balboa Tennis Club as singles, doubles and mixed doubles champions were crowned.

But the big story of this year’s tournament was the field of players in the men’s and women’s draws. Unlike the USTA age-division national events, which are limited to a particular age group, last week’s National Open Hard Court tournament was open to everyone.

“It is always incredible to see the diversity and range of players who enter this national event,” said Tournament Director Colleen Clery Ferrell. “Every year I’m amazed with these draws that are filled with promising young junior players competing with college players and senior players.”

This year’s tournament even featured a former touring professional as well as a current touring pro. According to Clery Ferrell, it is not unusual for professionals to enter the National Open Hard Courts, which adds an even higher level of talent to the tournament.

Current American tennis stars Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe are past participants. Sock won the men’s singles title in 2010 and the men’s doubles championship in 2011. Former touring tennis professionals Gretchen Rush, Rosalyn Nideffer and Allison Bradshaw have also played in the event.  

“It’s been great to watch players like Sock and Vandeweghe compete at the highest level in professional tennis after playing in this tournament,” Clery Ferrell said. “It will be interesting to see if any players from this year’s event will follow in their footsteps. There are certainly quite a few possibilities.”

Two of the youngest competitors this year were 12-year-old Ivan Smith of Chula Vista, Calif., and 13-year-old Nicole Mossmer of La Jolla, Calif.  Smith, the No. 1-ranked player in the 12 and under division in Southern California lost his first-round singles match but gained valuable playing experience.

Mossmer provided the tournament with one of the biggest upsets as she ousted fifth-seeded Hailey Johnson of Fallbrook, Calif., 6-1, 6-2, in a second-round match. Johnson currently plays NCAA Division I collegiate tennis for San Diego State University. In her third-round match, Mossmer fell to eventual singles finalist Alexandra Valenstein, a hard-hitting 17-year-old from Laguna Hills, Calif., 6-4, 6-0. In addition, Mossmer advanced to the doubles semifinals and nearly won the bronze ball before losing a tough three-setter in the 3rd/4th place match.

In reaching the singles final without the loss of a set, Valenstein perhaps played her best match in the quarterfinals when she faced second-seeded Anna Anikanova, a 30-year native of Ukraine who now lives in San Diego. A former touring professional, Anikanova was once ranked No. 840 in the world.

Despite falling to current Notre Dame standout Monica Robinson in the final, 6-3, 6-0, Valenstein left the tournament with a USTA silver ball and a memorable tournament experience.

“The experience of this tournament has been one of my best. From the trainer to the tournament director and everyone running the tournament, they are so focused on keeping the players happy in each and every match, making sure they have what they need,” Valenstein said. “The environment around here among the players is very positive. That is something I thrive in.”

The men’s title was won by 17-year-year-old Logan Smith of Carlsbad, Calif., the No. 54 junior player in the world, who defeated 18-year-old Deiton Baughman, 6-4, 6-3, in the final. Smith next travels to Wimbledon to play in the boys’ junior competition later this month.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s special to come out here and take a title. It’s a big tournament with a great atmosphere. The crowd comes out and I had a lot of support,” Smith said after he was awarded his gold ball. “I got to work on my game a lot for the upcoming tournament at Wimbledon. It definitely helps.”

Click here for complete tournament results.



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