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IMG Bollettieri Tennis in Bradenton to Host 2011 US Open National Playoffs-Florida Qualifying

January 26, 2011 10:41 AM
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2010 US Open Playoffs-Florida men's winner Olivier Sajous
2010 US Open Playoffs-Florida women's winner Jan Abaza
The USTA Florida Section announced Wednesday that the legendary IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., will again host the US Open National Playoffs-Florida Sectional Qualifying Tournament, to be held May 28-June 3, 2011.

Now in its second year, the US Open National Playoffs expands the footprint of the US Open by providing the opportunity for all tennis players 14 years of age and older to earn a berth into the US Open. This year for the first time the tournament will include mixed doubles in addition to men's and women's singles.

The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions will receive a main draw wildcard into the 2011 US Open. The US Open National Playoffs men's and women's singles champions again earn a wildcard into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held the week prior to the US Open.

Last year's regional event in Florida drew from the entire spectrum of tennis players -- from USTA League participants to weekend hackers to college players, high school players, junior competitive players, senior players, and even former ATP pros like 38-year-old Mehdi Tahiri of Inverness, Fla. (via Morocco) who once ranked Top 400 on the ATP Rankings.

"I want to find out if I can still play as well as I used to and to show my son, Malik, how to work hard and train for a tournament," Tahiri said prior to last year's event. "I want to see how well I can play against the 'new generation' of players. The Playoff concept is a great opportunity for someone that has the ability to play at a professional level, but doesn't have the money to tour and play the tournaments necessary to increase their ranking high enough to make it a career. It is a life-changing opportunity."

Last year's men's and women's winners also came from two different ends of the spectrum -- Plantation, Fla., resident and Haiti Davis Cup player Olivier Sajous won the men's event, while 15-year-old Jan Abaza of Deerfield Beach, an aspiring pro, won the women's event.

US Open National Playoffs regional events will again be held in 16 USTA Sections throughout the country, including Bradenton, Fla. 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, on Aug. 18-21 for the singles championships, and Aug. 24-27 for the mixed doubles championships. 

Registration for each of the 16 sectional qualifying tournaments begins on March 15, 2011, 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 Aug. 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 USTA Chief Professional Tournaments Officer & US Open Tournament Director Jim Curley. "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, with a random draw in the men's and women's singles (no seeding).

In all, 1,232 players (859 men, 373 women) competed in the inaugural edition of the US Open National Playoffs last year, ranging from experienced professionals 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.).

The national winners earning US Open Qualifying wildcards last year were 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. The US Open Qualifying Tournament will be held Aug. 23-26 and the US Open Mixed Doubles Championship begins Aug. 31 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The 2011 US Open singles draw begins on August 29.

In the meantime, Florida players who want a taste of competing in the US Open can mark their calendars for the weekend of May 28, 2011, and a visit to the IMG/Bollettieri in Bradenton, Fla. For a wrap-up of last year's final day of competition in Bradenton, go to www.florida.usta.com/News/2010_06/US_Open_Final/.

 
 

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