The 14 teams that will compete in the first-ever US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship, August 24-27, at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Conn., were announced by the USTA. The tournament is being held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, the final Olympus US Open Series women’s event of the summer. The winning team will receive a wild card into the main draw of the 2011 US Open Mixed Doubles Tournament, starting Wednesday, August 31, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., the home of the US Open.
Mixed doubles was added to the US Open National Playoffs this year, following the debut of men’s and women’s singles last year. This year, 192 teams competed in mixed doubles at one of 16 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments, and 14 teams have advanced to New Haven (two teams have withdrawn). 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.
“We have been looking forward to crowning our first US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions after a summer of competitive doubles play,” says Jeff Ryan, Tournament Director, US Open National Playoffs. “There is a strong and diverse field in New Haven, and we are eager to watch two of these players compete in a main-draw match in New York .”
The competitors in the Mixed Doubles Championships include former collegians, one player who has reached the final of a Grand Slam doubles event, five players who have been ranked in the top 100 in doubles, four teenagers and six players who are over 30 years old.
The US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship field includes:
USTA Eastern: Bea Bielik, 30, Valley Stream, NY; Darrin Cohen, 27, Smithtown, NY
USTA Florida: Amanda Rodgers, 18, Bradenton, FL ; Ellis Ferreira, 41, Holmes Beach, FL
USTA Hawaii-Pacific: Maureen Diaz, 29, Glendale, CA ; Erik Nelson-Kortland, 32, Marina del Rey, CA
USTA Intermountain: Yana Ruegsegger, 34, Lakewood, CO ; Miika Keronen, 40, Longmont, CO
USTA Mid-Atlantic: Skylar Morton, 17, Bethesda, MD ; Patrick Daciek, 21, Severna Park, MD
USTA Middle States: Jill Saunders, 20, Kempton, PA ; Kristopher Shumway, 30, Royersford, PA
USTA Midwest: Michaela Kissell, 23, Huntington, WV ; Jacob Eddins, 25, Huntington, WV
USTA Missouri Valley: Brook Connelly, 25, Yukon, OK ; Dave Mullins, 32, Norman, OK
USTA New England: Whitney Jones, 25, St. Louis, MO ; Blake Strode, 24, St. Louis
USTA Northern: Imke Reimers, 25, Minneapolis, MN ; Erik Donley, 37, Duluth, MN
USTA Northern California: Yasmin Schnack, 23, Elk Grove, CA ; Eric Roberson, 25, Sacramento, CA
USTA Pacific Northwest: Marie-Eve Pelletier, 29, Quebec, Canada ; Aleksander Vlaski, 29, Belgrade, Serbia
USTA Southern: Christina Fusano, 30, Plymouth, CA ; David Martin, 30, Tulsa, OK
USTA Texas: Samantha Adams, 19, New Braunfels, TX ; Harrison Adams, 17, New Braunfels, TX
Among the contenders are Ellis Ferreira, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion; former NCAA singles champion Bea Bielik, who reached the third round of the US Open in singles 11 years ago; and Blake Strode, who deferred Harvard Law School to pursue a career in professional tennis and successfully defended his US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship title last week in New Haven.
The top seeded team is comprised of David Martin and Christina Fusano, who have combined to win 31 USTA Pro Circuit doubles crowns (20 for Martin, 11 for Fusano). Other notable pairings are the brother-sister team of Samantha and Harrison Adams, who advanced out of Texas, and a pair of coaches from the University of Oklahoma, Dave Mullins and Brook Connelly, who won the Missouri Valley title.
A number of the players competing in the Mixed Doubles Championship also played in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Championships. Martin and Strode both competed in the Men’s Championship. Maureen Diaz, Skylar Morton, Yasmin Schnack and Canadian Fed Cup player Marie-Eve Pelletier, who was the No. 1 seed in the Women’s Championship, all competed in the Women’s Championship.
The US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Championship took place August 18-21, in New Haven, with the winning singles players earning a wild card into the 2011 US Open Qualifying Tournament, which begins today at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
In the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship, top seed Strode successfully defended his title this year. Strode is a former University of Arkansas All-American, who has deferred Harvard Law School for another year to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis. He is currently ranked No. 447 in the ATP Rankings and plays in the first round of the US Open Qualifying Tournament today. Eighteen-year-old Robin Anderson, a girls’ singles quarterfinalist at the 2010 US Open, won the women’s title. She will be attending UCLA this fall and plays in qualifying tomorrow.
The US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championships final is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 27. A one-hour documentary on the 2011 US Open National Playoffs will be broadcast on Tennis Channel, airing Monday, Sept. 12.