A Day of Finals and a Day of Firsts as US Open Qualifying Concludes
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
New York, August 26, 2016–It was a day of finals, but also a day of firsts. For Belgium’s Elise Mertens, Germany’s Antonia Lottner and Romania’s Ana Bogdon among others, it was a time to celebrate for at least one day. All qualified for their first-ever grand slam main draw and they did it in New York no less. Though I think $43,300 for making the main draw is a sum worthy of celebration, it was worth so much more to the players.
Elise Mertens was the first women’s qualifier on Friday. “It’s about a lot more. Each time you win and also each time you lose, it’s an experience to play here and I love to come here and play,” she told me after the match. Mertens practices at the Kim Clijsters Academy, so she knows the Belgian legacy shines bright at the US Open.
Ana Bogdon was so happy she was about to explode after winning a three-setter over Francoise Abanda of Canada. She finished her qualifying campaign with two three-setters. “I’m so happy, I cannot describe the emotions I’m feeling right now. It’s overwhelming and I’m excited. I want to do more than that, than what I did today”, she told me after the win. “I’m not playing for the money, I’m playing for myself and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. That’s the most important thing”.
Antonia Lottner was also on Cloud 9. “I feel amazing. This is my first women’s grand slam and I’m really excited to make it to the main draw, and yeah, I am very, very happy”, she said. On the money, she also demurred. “It’s not about the money at all. It’s about all of the hard work that paid off”.
The joy on the player’s faces today was even more pronounced than seeing a player react when she takes her first ITF title or even a first pro title. It’s the raw emotion and the anticipation of achieving greatness that makes the US Open qualifying rounds an amazing event to attend. It’s also about doing it in New York, a place where these players watched legends win from childhood memories. Their own memories now made in New York, it will be exciting to see where they go from here.