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Doubles Debut Draws College Players & Coaches

Maya Jansen of the University of Alabama stretches for a backhand.
June 26, 2015 02:33 PM
Caroline Price affirms the winner hit by partner Alexandra Anghelescu.

Click here for recap of championship finals

Click here for draws, schedule & results

By Rick Limpert, Special to USTA Southern

With the US Open National Playoffs returning for a sixth season in 2015, the USTA was looking for a  way to make it bigger and better.

Brand new competitions have been added for 2015 in men's doubles and women's doubles, while entrants can continue to compete in men's and women's singles and mixed doubles. All with coveted spots in the US Open, on the line.

It looks like USTA succeeded, entrants in the USTA Southern qualifier were up more than 50 players and other sections across the country reported more entrants and more interest.

"The US Open National Playoffs are all about connecting people to the US Open," said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO and President. "This year, by adding men's and women's doubles, the National Playoffs are giving competitors the chance to earn their way into the US Open in every possible way."

For those players battling 100 degree temperatures on the courts this week at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners (Ga.), their first concern was advancing out of the sectional to get to the Connecticut  Open where they will compete against winners from other sectional qualifying tournaments.

The winners of the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles Championship will earn a wild card into the main draw of the US Open doubles draw, held Aug. 31-Sept. 13 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Singles winners will earn a berth into the US Open Qualifying Tournament.

"There is some good depth and it's fun to get out there with all different levels and ages," said American player Jesse Witte, who in 2009 reached the third round of the US Open and lost a four-set thriller to Novak Djokovic. "I've played in the US Open Playoffs two years now, and always wondered why they didn't offer doubles."

Recent University of North Carolina graduate and local Atlanta favorite Caroline Price echoed Witten's sentiments. Price is paired with former University of Georgia and Georgia Tech player Alexandra Anghelescu in the women's doubles. "This gives us a great opportunity to qualify even though we are just starting our pro careers," stated Price.

Witten is playing singles, but also doubles with friend Vahid Mirzadeh, a veteran touring pro from Lake Worth, Fla., who is ranked No. 398 in the ATP World Tour doubles rankings. He said with main draw doubles wildcards at stake, the competition is stiff.

"If you look at the qualifiers (from) other sections, there are major championship winners in Travis Parrott, who won the mixed doubles at the U.S. Open (2009). A main draw wildcard is why everyone is playing and that is where everyone wants to be. The US Open is what you think about if you are an American or grew up here in the States."

Anghelescu said she's grateful for this opportunity and her dream to play in the US Open, which is the dream of many American tennis players, is alive and well.

"The only way to get to the US Open when we were in college was through the NCAAs and now that we are out of college, it's great to have a tournament where we can continue our dream in doubles."

Witten, 32, said having main draw wildcards at stake for doubles may even keep him playing a little longer.

Both the men's and women's doubles draws featured top junior players, college standouts to go along with a handful of teaching professionals and coaches that were looking to see how their games still stack up with the younger set.

"It's a little easier than playing singles for us older guys."

News and Notes

Semifinal play will begin Friday morning at 9:30 am, with play continuing throughout the day. Singles finals are scheduled for Saturday morning.

As play entered the semifinal rounds, Georgia Tech player, Michael Kay of Alpharetta, Ga., is still alive in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

Chalk one up for the coaches as Woodstock teaching professional, Marcus Hurtig and Georgia State head men's coach, Brett Ross, defeated a duo from South Carolina to advance to the men's doubles semifinals.

“Roll Tide” as four members of the 2015-16 University of Alabama women's tennis team have been in action. Two-time NCAA Women's Doubles champs Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe, who will be back in Tuscaloosa to try for a three-peat, are through to the semifinals in women's doubles.

Women's singles top seed, Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, N.C., has dropped just nine games in three matches to advance to the semifinals.

 

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