The USTA announced that the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship will be held July 22-25 at the Atlanta Athletic Club. The tournament will be held in conjunction with the Atlanta Tennis Championships, the first Olympus US Open Series event that kicked off on Monday, July 19. Live scoring is available through USTA.com and AtlantaTennisChampionships.com, and Sunday’s final will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel and available live on ESPN3.com. The winner will receive a wild card into the 2010 US Open Qualifying Tournament, August 24-27, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in Flushing, N.Y., the home of the US Open.
In the inaugural year of the US Open National Playoffs, 859 men competed in the 16 US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournaments, with 16 advancing to the Men’s Championship. The US Open National Playoffs function as a series of tournaments held throughout the United States to make the US Open eligible to anyone and everyone 14-and-over with the passion to compete, regardless of playing ability or nationality.
“After 16 tournaments nationwide spanning over three months, we are excited to reach the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship to award a wild card into the 2010 US Open Qualifying Tournament,” says Jeff Ryan, Tournament Director of the US Open National Playoffs. “We have an impressive field and are thrilled to allow one player to achieve their dreams of competing in the US Open.”
The competitors in the Men’s Championship hail from nine different countries and four different continents. Three play Davis Cup for their countries, six played collegiately last year, three are regulars on the USTA Pro Circuit, two are coaches, one is an aspiring music producer, and another is an aspiring lawyer.
Those competing in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship include:
Thibaut Charron; 23; Sens, France (USTA Mid-Atlantic)
Angelo Niculescu; 29; Lake Oswego, OR (USTA Pac. NW)
Dante Cipulli; 28; Kansas City (USTA Missouri Valley)
Eduardo Pavia; 21; Carolina, Puerto Rico (USTA Southern)
Phillip Eilers; 24; Salt Lake City (USTA Intermountain)
Eric Quigley; 21; Pewee Valley, KY (USTA Midwest)
Colin Hoover; 21; Arlington, TX (USTA Texas)
Olivier Sajous; 23; Plantation, FL (USTA Florida)
Ikaika Jobe; 27; Honolulu (USTA Hawaii-Pacific)
Blake Strode; 22; St. Louis (USTA Southwest)
Nikita Kryvonos; 23; Flushing, NY (USTA Eastern)
Brandon Wai; 24; New York (USTA New England)
Punch Maleka; 31; Wayne, PA (USTA Middle States)
Chris Wettengel; 28; Saratoga, CA (USTA Northern Calif.)
Cecil Mamiit; 34; South Pasadena, CA (USTA Southern California)
Keith Whittingham; 22; Erie, PA (USTA Northern)
For all their collective experience, only three – Blake Strode, Nikita Kryvonos and Cecil Mamiit – have previously played in the US Open Qualifying Tournament, and only Mamiit has appeared in the main draw.
The top-seeded Strode, a former all-American at the University of Arkansas who deferred Harvard Law School to pursue a professional career and who recently entered the Top 500 for the first time in his career, will face Punch Maleka, a tennis instructor in Pennsylvania and an aspiring music producer and DJ, in the first round. Mamiit, the 1996 NCAA singles champion and former Top 100 player who is currently Davis Cup Captain for the Philippines, comes in as the No. 2 seed, and will face Oregon teaching pro Angelo Niculescu. The No. 3 seed Olivier Sajous, who grew up in Haiti and whose family was displaced by the recent earthquake, will take on Mercyhurst standout Keith Whittingham, who earned a spot in the Men’s Championship after the winner of the USTA Northern Sectional Qualifying Tournament was unable to compete. Chris Wettengel, who holds two USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles, is the No. 4 seed and will face recent University of Utah graduate Phillip Eilers, who was also a junior standout in Germany.
Other first round matchups include Kryvonos, a former Top 400 player who lives just minutes from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, who will take on Puerto Rico native and Ball State standout Eduardo Pavia. University of Kentucky star and USTA Summer Collegiate Team member Eric Quigley will face fellow collegian Colin Hoover of Texas A&M. Dante Cipulli, the assistant tennis coach at the University of Missouri–Kansas City will play recent Virginia Commonwealth graduate Thibaut Charron, who entered the US Open National Playoffs to prepare for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Ikaika Jobe, a law student at the University of Hawaii, will take on two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Brandon Wai, a graduate of Yale, who was the runner-up at the USTA New England Sectional Qualifying Tournament (Wai’s opponent was unable to compete).
Wettengel, Sajous, and Mamiit all competed in the Atlanta Tennis Championships Qualifying Tournament to prepare for the US Open National Playoffs, with Sajous reaching the final round.
The US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship final is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 25, not before 5:30 p.m. on the stadium court.