Mayo Hibi, the defending champion at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Sacramento, won the women's singles title at last year's US Open National Playoffs.
By McCarton Ackerman, USTA.com
The fifth edition of the US Open National Playoffs kicks off this spring, and numerous players on the USTA Pro Circuit will compete in hopes of making their Grand Slam dreams come true.
The first sectional qualifying tournament will be held May 17-20 in Scottsdale, Ariz., with 13 sections in total holding tournaments over an eight-week period. The winners or top available finishers from each sectional event in men’s and women’s singles, as well as in mixed doubles, advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Championships, held Aug. 15-23 in conjunction with the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in New Haven, Conn.
The winners of the men’s and women’s singles championship events each receive a wild card into the qualifying draw of the US Open, while the mixed doubles winners receive a wild card into the main draw.
For more on the US Open National Playoffs, including to register for this year's events, click here.
“The US Open National Playoffs have provided invaluable experience for our players on the USTA Pro Circuit,” said Brian Earley, USTA Pro Circuit Director. “These events give our players the chance to play more matches close to home, while also providing the unique pressure of an opportunity to achieve their lifelong dream of competing in the US Open.”
For many players competing on the USTA Pro Circuit, the US Open National Playoffs have been a steppingstone to success in their pro careers. Blake Strode won two Futures singles events on the USTA Pro Circuit after capturing the first of his two consecutive US Open National Playoffs singles events in 2010, while Jeff Dadamo won his first Pro Circuit title just two months after prevailing in last year’s US Open National Playoffs.
On the women’s side, two-time US Open National Playoffs women’s singles champion Alexandra Mueller has racked up two singles and eight doubles titles on the USTA Pro Circuit since winning the inaugural event in 2010. Meanwhile, last year’s winner Mayo Hibi used the momentum built in capturing the Southern California sectional qualifying tournament to win a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Sacramento, Calif. Now, just seven months after prevailing in last year’s US Open National Playoffs, she is at a career-high ranking of No. 211.
Almost all the US Open National Playoffs winners in mixed doubles have also been USTA Pro Circuit stalwarts. 2011 mixed doubles winner David Martin won a staggering 23 Pro Circuit doubles titles throughout his career, in addition to one ATP doubles title, while his National Playoffs mixed doubles partner Christina Fusano also won a WTA doubles title and 12 doubles events on the Pro Circuit.
2012 mixed doubles winner Brian Battistone has won five doubles titles on the USTA Pro Circuit, while his partner Nicole Melichar has captured two Pro Circuit doubles titles since her National Playoffs win and is currently at a career-high doubles ranking of No. 174. Moreover, last year’s winner Yasmin Schnack has won eight USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles.
But it’s not just the US Open National Playoffs champions who have posted impressive pro results. Notable sectional qualifying winners include 2000 Australian Open men’s doubles champion Ellis Ferreira, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Tarabini and former Top 10 doubles player Jeff Tarango. Numerous sectional qualifying winners have also achieved Top 100 rankings in singles or doubles including Cecil Mamiit, Nathan Healey, Mashona Washington, Alina Jidkova, Marie-Eve Pelletier, Romana Tedjakusuma, Vasilisa Bardina and Lilia Osterloh.