Day 2 of the US Open National Playoffs Mid-Atlantic Sectional Qualifying at the Junior Tennis Champions Center at College Park was again blessed with unusually pleasant June weather. Top seeds Nika Kukharchuk and Damon Gooch both breezed into the later rounds. Kukharchuk will face Greenbelt, Maryland’s Amy Zhu in a semifinal tomorrow, alongside the Monet Willis/Leslie Hansen semi. Damon Gooch is scheduled to play a quarterfinal against Matt Brooklyn, who upset a beloved local, Gaithersburg’s Junior Ore in straights in a close match. Other scheduled men’s quarters include Yancy Dennis/Maxx Lipman, Piotrs Necajevs/Tyler Tulenko and Ryan Lipman/Christaan Lee-Daigle.
A most impressive run in this tournament belongs to Piotrs Necajevs. Necajevs hails from Latvia, where he is a former national doubles champion. He was an MVP at Mississippi State, and he’s currently the Interim Head Coach of the University of Detroit Women’s Tennis program. He went 5-0 in a span of 32 hours this weekend, winning 3 singles contests and 2 mixed doubles matches. Tomorrow, he’ll try to win another 2 in singles and a mixed doubles semi. If he can pull that off, he’ll have a relatively easier time on Tuesday, when he’ll only have to play 2 finals in 7 hours. His mixed doubles partner, Sophia Abelson, a National Open 14s doubles champion herself and is coached by Necajevs. She has a spinning kickserve that I’ll never forget. Sophia Silbergeld of Baltimore and I played them earlier today in a Quarterfinal. Though the official scoreline reads 6-1, 6-0 to the Michigan power duo, neither of us Marylanders remember it being that close at all. I apologize for the shakiness of the video below in the first few seconds, but my hand was still in perpetual motion from all that spin. I want to thank them for being so hospitable and for going easy on us. Thank you!