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Ditty, Pluskota, Reese Lead USTA Southern's US Open National Playoffs Field

June 20, 2014 02:57 PM
Julie Ditty competes at the Family Circle Cup.
The women's champ: Natalie Pluskota.
Hunter Reese won the 2014 NCAA doubles crown.

Champions to compete for US Open bids in August
One of the South’s leading pros will headline the field of the US Open National Playoffs Southern Qualifying Tournament, beginning Monday, June 23 in Norcross, Ga.

Julie Ditty, 35, who holds the record of the most USTA Pro Circuit titles with 39, is among the most notable players competing at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners. Three years ago she retired from the WTA Tour to begin her second career as Bellefonte Country Club Director of Tennis in Ashland, Ky. She rose to No. 66 in doubles and No. 89 in singles in the world and won $491,168 with a 294-230 record pro career. Ditty appeared in three Grand Slam singles matches but never advanced to the second round.

Another notable competitor is Natalie Pluskota, 24, who won this qualifying tournament two years ago and reached the final of the 2013 Landisville USTA Pro Circuit event. The No. 2 seed is a former three-time ITA All-American at the University of Tennessee and lives in Sharpsburg, Ga. Seeded No. 1 is Anastasia Kharchenko, who is ranked No. 658 in the world and plays for Ukraine.

Hunter Reese, the reigning NCAA men’s doubles champion for Tennessee, is the most notable player in the men’s field. He and partner Mikelis Libietis were named the ITA Doubles Team of the Year. The Kennesaw, Ga., resident is a two-time ITA All-American and reached No. 16 in collegiate singles rankings this year.

David Hopkins, USTA Southern 10 and Under Coordinator, is writing on the www.SouthernTennis.com website about his play in men’s singles and mixed doubles. Hopkins was a two-time All-ACC player at Wake Forest. Area teaching pro Danie van den Heever, who took on Mike and Bob Bryan in an exhibition at the club, will also compete.

Other notable area players include: Aryn Greene, Amanda Rebol, Ellen-Jang Milsten, Laura Patterson, Amy Yang, Trey Yates, Emil Reinberg, Elliott Orkin and Michael Kay.

Tournament Director Sanjay Jayaram said, “This is a very exciting field that we will be hosting at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners. We were the site of the first Southern Qualifying Tournament in 2010 and 2011 and are very pleased to bring it back.”

Finals are scheduled for Saturday, June 28 at 9 a.m., starting with women’s singles, followed by men’s singles and mixed doubles. Semifinals begin Friday, June 27 at 4:30 p.m.

The US Open National Playoffs include both men’s and women’s singles, as well as mixed doubles. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs to expand the footprint of the US Open to cities nationwide 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 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. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a wild card into the main draw of the 2014 US Opens.

The US Open National Playoffs begin as a series of 13 sectional qualifying tournaments, held in different USTA Sections nationwide, including Norcross. The 13 men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champions or top available finishers from each sectional qualifying tournament will advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Singles Championship, held August 15-18, and the Mixed Doubles Championship, held August 20-23. All three tournaments will take place in conjunction with the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies in New Haven, Conn., an Emirates Airline US Open Series event.
 

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