Top four seeds advance to National Playoffs Men's Championship semifinals

July 24, 2010 09:54 AM
Blake Stode in action.
ATLANTA, GA. - Day two of the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship brought on intense competition among players and extreme heat on the court. With temperatures reaching 100 degrees throughout the day, the top four seeds were the ones who came out the winners. Blake Strode, Cecil Mamiit, Olivier Sajous and Chris Wettengel brought out their best games on Thursday and will face off in what will be two highly competitive semifinals.
No. 1 seed Strode, 23, of St. Louis, took on Nikita Kryvonos, 23, of Flushing, N.Y., in the first match of the day. Kryvonos competed in a three hour match yesterday and found himself in a similar situation in the quarterfinals, as Strode and Kryvonos battled for just 15 minutes short of three hours. Strode broke Kryvonos at the end of the third set to win 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4. Both players have previously competed in the US Open Qualifying Tournament, as Strode entered as a wild card last year and Kryvonos played in the qualifying tournament in 2004, 2006 and 2007, reaching the second round in 2006.
Strode will face No. 3 seed Olivier Sajous, 23, who was born in Haiti and resides in Plantation, Fla., who easily defeated his second straight college standout. After cruising past Keith Whittingham of Mercyhurt yesterday, Sajous defeated Texas A&M’s Colin Hoover, 21, of Arlington, Texas, 6-2, 6-4, in just 73 minutes. Both Sajous and Hoover have a connection to college tennis in Texas–Sajous played for Texas University for one year before competing for Florida Atlantic and Hoover will be entering his junior year at Texas A&M. Despite being college rivals, the two had never faced each other prior to the 2010 US Open National Playoffs.
Playing again under lights, No. 2 seed Cecil Mamiit, 34, of South Pasadena, Calif., moved closer to competing in the US Open again, defeating Ikaika Jobe, 27, of Honolulu, 6-0, 6-3. Mamiit, who peaked to world No. 72 more than a decade ago, is the only player in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship who has competed in the US Open main draw. In fact, Mamiit competed in four US Open main draws and in 1997, Mamiit advanced to the second round and lost to Atlanta Tennis Championships quarterfinalist Xavier Malisse in five sets.
Mamiit will take on No. 4 seed Chris Wettengel, who beat University of Missouri-Kansas City tennis coach Dante Cipulli, 28, of Kansas City, 7-6(3), 6-3. While Wettengel has never competed in the US Open like Mamiit, the former University of Minnesota standout has had success on the USTA Pro Circuit, winning two career USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles and reaching the quarterfinals of the $10,000 event in Davis, Calif., in his home state this year.
It is a rare occurrence for all four seeds to reach the semifinals of the US Open, let alone any Grand Slam. Despite a 16-man field, it is certainly fitting that the four seeds are the last men standing in this inaugural US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship.
Complete results:
[1] Blake Strode def. Nikita Kryvonos 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4
[2] Cecil Mamiit def. Ikaika Jobe 6-0, 6-3
[3] Olivier Sajous def. Colin Hoover 6-2, 6-4
[4] Chris Wettengel def. Dante Cipulli 7-6(3), 6-3