The registration deadlines are approaching for the first US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournaments of 2012, with play set to begin May 19 in Scottsdale, Ariz., with the Southwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament.
Players age 14 and older can register for singles competition and/or mixed doubles. Registration deadlines for the sectional qualifying events vary by tournament (see complete schedule
). Registration for each of the 13 sectional qualifying tournaments is available at www.USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs.
The US Open National Playoffs presented by playtennis.com returns for a third year as a series of 13 sectional qualifying tournaments. The men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed doubles champions from each sectional qualifying tournament will advance to the US Open National Playoffs Championship, which will be held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event. The US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles Championship will be held Aug. 17-20. The US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship will be held Aug. 22-25.
The US Open National Playoffs men’s and women’s singles champions earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held the week prior to the US Open. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a main-draw wild card into the 2012 US Open.
This year’s playing fields range from experienced professionals to recreational players of all talents and walks of life. Those players expected to compete include former University of Illinois standout Ryler DeHeart, who peaked at No. 174 in the world and faced Rafael Nadal in the 2008 US Open. DeHeart has since retired and leads a youth tennis program in Florida, which highlights 10 and Under Tennis.
Other players include Syracuse University freshman Amanda Rodgers, who reached the US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship last year with two-time Grand Slam doubles champion Ellis Ferreira; 2009 Orange Bowl quarterfinalist Junior Ore, who now plays at Texas A&M; and Danny Riggs, the teenage grandson of Bobby Riggs, who faced Billie Jean King in the famous Battle of the Sexes match in 1973. Danny plays college tennis at Cornell.
Recreational players include New York City TV reporter Francesca Maxime, Rabbi Gregg Ackerman and David Spellman, who plays tennis to benefit Crohn’s disease. Both Ackerman and Spellman have competed in the previous two USTA Eastern Sectional Qualifying Tournaments. Other recreational players include a software engineer from San Francisco, a pastor at a drug/alcohol reformation program in Arizona and a 75-year-old art historian, who is an avid USTA League senior player. Husband-and-wife and brother-and-sister doubles teams also highlight the mixed doubles draws.
"The US Open season kicks off with the US Open National Playoffs presented by playtennis.com, which gives players the chance to have their own special connection to the US Open," said Jeff Ryan, US Open National Playoffs Tournament Director. "We again expect all players of all ages and playing levels to hit the courts this summer to fulfill their tennis dreams and get excited about earning the opportunity to play on tennis’ biggest stage—the US Open."
The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs to expand the footprint of the US Open to cities nationwide by providing the opportunity for all players 14 years of age and older to earn a berth into the US Open. In all, 1,380 players (690 in men’s singles, 306 in women’s singles and 384 in mixed doubles) competed in 2011 (including ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, who teamed with six-time US Open champion Chris Evert in mixed doubles).
The US Open Qualifying Tournament will be held Aug. 21-24, and the US Open Mixed Doubles Championship begins Aug. 29 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The 2012 US Open begins on Aug. 27.