The US Open National Playoffs (USONP) is a series of tournaments that give anyone 14 years or older the opportunity to earn a singles wild card entry into the US Open Qualifying Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Aug. 17–20, and/or a doubles wild card entry into the main draw of the US Open Mixed Doubles Tournament. The 2012 US Open begins on August 27.
The US Open Mid-Atlantic Sectional Qualifying Tournament will take place at the Tennis Center at College Park (TCCP) in College Park, Md., the home of an award-winning 27 court facility, from June 2–5. The winner of each draw will advance to the US Open National Playoffs held in August in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event.
Play begins Saturday, June 2 at 8 a.m. Men’s Round of 64, Women’s Round of 32, and Mixed Doubles Round of 16 will be played June 2; all finals will be played Tuesday, June 5.
64 men, 27 women, and 10 mixed doubles teams will compete in the Sectional Qualifying Tournament. Participants can be of any playing level, from aspiring novice to seasoned professional, giving everyone an equal opportunity to advance. A diverse field includes top-ranked juniors, college players, college coaches, senior players, club teaching pros, siblings, a father/daughter team, and international players.
Returning Champion Damon Gooch of Bethesda, Md., will attempt to repeat as the Mid-Atlantic’s men’s singles champion. Gooch trains at TCCP and won two matches at the US Open National Playoffs in New Haven last summer before falling in the semifinals to eventual champion Blake Strode.
The list of college players competing include Nicholas Bakos (Potomac, Md.) from University of Charleston, Ikttesh Chahal (Chandigarh, India/Morgantown, W.Va.) from West Virginia University, Zach Hublitz (Vienna, Va.) from UNC Wilmington, Brandon Larsen (Woodbridge, Va.) from Bridgewater College, Ryan Lipman (Nashville, Tenn.) from Vanderbilt University, Hunter McCawley (Bel Air, Md.) from Harford Community College, Taylor Newman (Olney, Md.) from Radford University, Junior Ore (Gaithersburg, Md.) from Texas A&M, and Alex Sidney (Baltimore, Md.) from Cornell University.
Joining over a dozen college players in the tournament are three college coaches: Pjotrs Necajevs is the Interim Women’s Tennis Head Coach for the University of Detroit, Matt Brooklyn is the Assistant Men’s Tennis Coach at Georgetown University, and Adam Cranford is an Assistant Men’s Tennis Coach at Washington College in Chestertown, Md.
Father and daughter Steve and Kendall Heitzner of Potomac, Md., will partner for mixed doubles. Kendall has committed to play tennis at Colorado State University this fall and has also entered the women’s singles draw. The Heitzners are joined in the mixed doubles draw by siblings Amy and Evan Zhu from Greenbelt, Md. Brothers Maxx and Ryan Lipman from Nashville, Tenn., will play men’s singles and siblings Alex and Megan Hahn from Rockville, Md., will play men’s and women’s singles, respectively.
Ryan Shane (Falls Church, Va.) is ranked 12th in the nation in the Boys’ 18s and will play at the University of Virginia in the fall. Mid-Atlantic Section’s (MAS) other top juniors competing include Kendall Heitzner (Potomac, Md.) ranked 10th in the MAS’s Girls’ 18s, Alex Hahn (Rockville, Md.) and Yancy Dennis (Reisterstown, Md.) ranked 5th and 10th in the MAS’s Boys’ 16s, respectively, and Evan Zhu (Greenbelt, Md.) ranked 6th in the MAS’s Boys’ 14s.
Several international players will be playing in the tournament including Canadians Tanya Baytor and Christiaan Lee-Daigle, Matt Brooklyn of England, Ikttesh Chahal of India, South Africans Dai Edwardes-Evans and Damon Gooch, Tita Mba of Cameroon, and Pjotrs Necajevs of Latvia.
Maryland brings the most competitors into the tournament (43 players).
Players will be competing from eleven states and the District of Columbia, including Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
Audrey Wooland, of Sugar Land, TX, is travelling the farthest distance to play in the event.
Youngest player is Evan Zhu of Greenbelt, Md., who will turn 14 in August.
Oldest player is Kent Watkins, of Bethesda, Md., who is 75.
–Chris Miller, USTA/Mid-Atlantic