The USTA recently announced the return of the US Open National Playoffs which in 2011 will now include mixed doubles in addition to men's and women's singles.
Last year, the USTA created the US Open National Playoffs to expand the footprint of the US Open by providing the opportunity for all players 14 years of age and older to earn a berth into the US Open. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions will receive a main draw wild card into the 2011 US Open. The US Open National Playoffs men's and women's singles champions again earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held the week prior to the US Open.
To connect more people to the US Open and expand the event's reach to communities throughout the United States, the US Open National Playoffs will again operate as a series of sectional qualifying tournaments, held in 16 USTA Sections throughout the country (see complete schedule on page 2). The 16 men's, women's and mixed doubles champions from each sectional qualifying tournament will advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men's Singles, Women's Singles and Mixed Doubles Championship. All three tournaments will be held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale, an Olympus US Open Series event. The US Open National Playoffs – Men's Singles and Women's Singles Championship will be held August 18-21. The US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship will be held August 24-27.
"The US Open National Playoffs is about providing players of all abilities the opportunity to connect with the US Open like they never could," said Jon Vegosen, USTA Chairman of the Board and President. "By adding mixed doubles, we expect even more people to dream big this year and enter one of the sectional qualifying tournaments. These tournaments are sanctioned by our dedicated USTA Sections, who make sure the players have a great experience."
Registration for each of the 16 sectional qualifying tournaments begins on March 15 at www.usta.com/tennislink . The entry fee for each of the sectional qualifying tournaments is $125 for singles and $150 for each mixed doubles team ($75 per player). All players competing must have a current USTA membership valid through August 29, 2011.
"We again expect the top junior players, collegians, teaching professionals, 'weekend warriors' and other recreational players to come out in large numbers to compete this year in singles and now mixed doubles," said Jim Curley, Chief Professional Tournaments Officer & US Open Tournament Director. "The New Haven Open at Yale will be a great host for the championships and the winners will be close to New York for the US Open."
A player may only enter and compete in one sectional qualifying tournament during a calendar year; players competing in men's singles or women's singles and mixed doubles may opt to compete at different sectional qualifying tournaments (one for singles and one for mixed doubles). The draw size at each sectional qualifying tournament will be a maximum of 256 for each singles event and a maximum of 128 teams for mixed doubles. Participants can be of any playing level, from aspiring novice to seasoned professional, giving everyone an equal opportunity to advance.
In all, 1,232 players (859 men, 373 women) competed in the inaugural edition of the 2010 US Open National Playoffs, ranging from experienced professionals (including two-time ATP singles champion Jeff Tarango and Russian Alina Jidkova, who reached a career-high No. 51 in 2005) to recreational players of all talents and walks of life (including Olympic skier Bode Miller, former Major League Baseball player Todd Walker and Rabbi Gregg Ackerman of Long Island, N.Y.).
In the end, Blake Strode, a former top-ranked collegian from the University of Arkansas who learned the game at an NJTL chapter in his hometown of St. Louis, Mo., and Alexandra Mueller, a 22-year-old from Abington, Pa., who competes regularly on the USTA Pro Circuit, emerged as the US Open National Playoffs champions and earned wild cards into the 2010 US Open Qualifying Tournament.
The US Open Qualifying Tournament will be held August 23-26 and the US Open Mixed Doubles Championship begins August 31 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The 2011 US Open begins on August 29.
To get started playing tennis in a location near you visit the USTA's Tennis Welcome Center . Find more tennis technique information at the USTA Player Development Web site .