Four Sectional Qualifying Tournaments finish with 16 more players advancing to the US Open National Playoffs
The USTA Middle States, Eastern, Southern California and New England Sectional Qualifying Tournaments of the 2012 US Open National Playoffs were all completed over the past week, advancing 16 additional players—including four past sectional qualifying tournament champions in men’s singles—to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles Championships in August.
USTA Middle States
Men’s Final – In the men’s final held at the Mercer County Tennis Facility in West Windsor, N.J., 2010 Middle States champion Punch Maleka faced off against Columbia University standout Ilia Shatashvili. In the end, Maleka, 33, of King of Prussia, Pa., defeated the 24-year-old from Princeton, N.J., 6-2, 6-2, to punch a return ticket to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship. Maleka grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, playing soccer but switched to tennis because his father, who was injured playing soccer, thought tennis was a safer option. Maleka spent some time on the USTA Pro Circuit and played in ITF tournaments before becoming a teaching pro in Pennsylvania. Off the court, he is an aspiring music producer and DJ.
Women’s Final – Philadelphia native Anna Mamalat, 18, defeated Alexis Dorr, 23, of Perkasie, Pa., 6-4, 6-2, to claim the women’s title. Mamalat, who plays with a two-handed forehand, is a standout junior player who has committed to play for Texas A&M in the fall. Dorr played for the University of Iowa.
Mixed Doubles Final – The Pittsburgh pairing of Ron Mercer, 44, and Stephanie Smith, 16, defeated Sylvia Jaros and Robert Murray, 6-4, 6-3, for the mixed doubles crown. Mercer, who played for West Virginia University in the late 1980s and currently runs the Mercerized Junior Development program outside Pittsburghand, teamed with young Smith, a state champion, to form a powerful team.
Men’s Final – The USTA Eastern Sectional Qualifying Tournament took place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.—the home of the US Open. The men’s final pitted Flushing local Nikita Kryvonos, who trains at the National Tennis Center, against the 2012 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, 19-year-old Columbia University student-athlete Winston Lin of Buffalo, N.Y. Kryvonos, 25, had more experience on the courts of the US Open, having played men’s doubles and the qualifying draws in the past, as well as winning the 2010 US Open National Playoffs Eastern event, but Lin came ready to play, battling for nearly two hours before Kryvonos prevailed, 6-4, 6-3.
Kryvonos was born in Ukraine and came to the U.S. with his family when he was 13. He established himself as a promising junior player, but contracted a staph infection at age 16 following leg surgery. After a long recovery, he worked back to become ranked as high as No. 389 in the world by playing on the USTA Pro Circuit. He won a USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Irvine, Calif., in 2007 and also competed in the 2007 US Open qualifying draw and the 2005 US Open men’s doubles main draw. He also served as a practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team in the 2006 semifinal in Russia alongside Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan brothers. Shortly after Kryvonos’ play in the 2010 US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship, he started to have knee trouble, which lingered last year. He decided not to play much tennis in 2011, skipping the National Playoffs and USTA Pro Circuit events. However, Kryvonos has been back training at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this year and is finally feeling good again.
Women’s Final – Last year’s Eastern runner-up Magda Okruashvili, 21, of New York, faced 16-year-old Rima Asatrian, who trains at the USTA Training Center-East at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as part of the USTA Player Development program, in the women’s final. In the end, Okruashvili was able to pull off the win, defeating Asatrian, 6-4, 6-4. Okruashvili is originally from the country of Georgia and moved to the United States in 2006, where she trains and plays in ITF and USTA Pro Circuit tournaments.
Mixed Doubles Final – Former college stars and current tennis coaches Alison Adamski, of Jamaica, N.Y., and Keith Kessler, of Brooklyn, N.Y., swept past their opponents in the mixed doubles final, defeating Malika Rose and Steven Wilson, 6-1, 6-1. Adamski, 26, played tennis for St. John’s University and currently coaches the Hofstra tennis team, while Kessler, 26, played for Florida Tech and is a teaching pro in Brooklyn, N.Y. The duo has played many national tournaments together, winning a bronze ball at the 2011 USTA Open Indoors Championships, but had never before entered the US Open National Playoffs.
USTA Southern California
Men’s Final – Dante Cipulli, 30, will also be making a return trip to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship after defeating former Top 50 player Jeff Tarango, 43, in a tight 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 match in Claremont, Calif. Cipulli won the 2010 USTA Missouri Valley Sectional Qualifying Tournament to advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship. He is a former assistant coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and currently works as a teaching pro and junior tennis coach in Murrieta, Calif. Tarango was the doubles runner-up at the 1999 French Open with Goran Ivanisivec. He won 14 ATP doubles titles in his career and peaked at No. 10 in the world doubles rankings in 1999 and No. 42 in singles in 1992.
Women’s Final – No. 1 seed Mayo Hibi, 16, of Irvine, Calif., lost just seven games in four matches to win the women’s title, defeating 17-year-old Alyssa Smith, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., 6-3, 6-1, in the final. Hibi, from Japan, won the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Hilton Head Island, S.C., earlier this month and is No. 646 in the WTA rankings. She also reached the semifinals of the 2012 Easter Bowl as a junior player. Off the court, Hibi enjoys music, taking piano lessons and playing the clarinet at her school.
Mixed Doubles Final – West Nott, 30, of Los Angeles, and Alison Ramos, 22, of Carson, Calif., won the mixed doubles title in a close match against Page Bartelt and Scott Doerner, 4-6, 6-4, [10-8]. Nott and Ramos also won their semifinal match in a tight third-set tie-break, 12-10. Nott is a current assistant coach at USC and competes in Davis Cup as a member of the Pacific Oceania team, having been born in the Marshall Islands and living on an island in Micronesia until the age of 11. In college, Nott played one year at Florida before transferring to Georgia Tech. As a junior, he was consistently ranked No. 1 in the USTA Midwest Section. Teaming with his mother, Elizabeth, Nott won the 2006 National Mother-Son Doubles Championships in 2006 and reached the final in 2010. Nott also spent six months as the full-time coach for Canadian Rebecca Marino, who is now ranked in the WTA’s Top 100. Ramos graduated from USC in the spring, where she played in the school’s fifth and sixth singles positions and was ranked in the Top 75 in the country in doubles as a junior and senior, finishing her junior year ranked No. 28.
USTA New England
Men’s Final – In New Haven, Conn., future Stanford Cardinal Nolan Paige,18, of Fairfield, Conn., won six matches and defeated Fordham University sophomore Srikar Alla in a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 final. Paige won the 2010 USTA New England sectional qualifier but was unable to compete in the US Open National Playoffs due to a scheduling conflict. Paige, who has won numerous New England tennis titles, comes from a tennis family; his father is the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Fairfield University.
Women’s Final – 2010 USTA Florida sectional qualifier champion Jan Abaza, 17, of Boca Raton, Fla., won the women’s title, defeating No. 2 seed and University of Pennsylvania standout Chieh Yu Hsu, 20, of Philadelphia, 7-5, 6-2, in the final. Abaza also upset No. 1 seed and 2011 USTA New England sectional champion Lena Litvak in the semifinals. Abaza has trained in Boca Raton for 10 years and is currently ranked No. 701. Due to a scheduling conflict, Abaza was unable to play in the Florida sectional qualifier, so she made the trip up to New England, as she has family in New Jersey. Abaza won the doubles title at the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Sumter, S.C., this year and was a standout junior, reaching the girls’ 14s quarterfinals at the 2008 Junior Orange Bowl.
Mixed Doubles Final – Paige had a chance to add another title as he advanced to the mixed doubles final with 18-year-old Ashley Noyes, but the pair fell to 14-year-old Meghan Kelley, of Falmouth, Maine, and Daniel Quiceno, 32, of Beverly, Mass., 6-3, 6-4. Quiceno is a teaching pro at Manchester Athletic Club in Massachusetts, where Kelley trains. He was the No. 1-ranked player in his native Colombia from age 8 to 18 and played collegiately at Troy University. He worked at the Bollettieri Academy and has been a hitting partner for Tommy Haas, Maria Sharapova and Xavier Malisse, among others. Kelley, the youngest player to have won a sectional qualifier so far, has won a number of national junior tournaments.
The winners or top available finishers from each of the 13 sectional qualifying tournaments held throughout the spring and summer advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles Championships, to be held during the New Haven Open at Yale, an Emirates Airline US Open Series women’s event, in August. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a main draw wild card into the 2012 US Open, while the men’s and women’s singles champions earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament held the week prior to the US Open.
Recap videos from all events can be followed on www.USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs.
The USTA Texas Sectional Qualifying Tournament, hosted by Arlington Tennis Center in Arlington, Texas, takes place June 18-23.
The USTA Northern California Sectional Qualifying Tournament, hosted by Chamisal Tennis Club in Salinas, Calif., takes place June 18-24.
Registration closes today for the USTA Southern Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Alpharetta, Ga., June 29-July 3.
Registration closes on June 19 for the USTA Midwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Cincinnati, June 30-July 3.