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Florida Players Begin Quest Friday at US Open National Playoffs Tennis

August 15, 2012 11:32 AM
Jan Abaza
Florida natives and qualifiers from Florida will kick-off play this Friday when the 2012 US Open National Playoffs men's and women's singles championships begin, Aug. 17-20 in conjunction with the WTA New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event. Winners from the men's and women's events will receive a wildcard into the qualifying draw for the 2012 US Open.

Florida qualifiers or natives competing will be Sandra Roma of Sweden (US Open Playoffs-Florida women's winner, trains in Naples, Fla.), Eric Hechtman (US Open Playoffs-Florida men's winner and Miami resident), and Jan Abaza (Boca Raton teen who won the US Open Playoffs-New England women's event).

Roma in the Florida final edged 15-year-old Jessica Ho of Tampa 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4, and in the semifinals defeated defending champion Caroline Dailey 6-4, 6-0.

"I did not have my best day out on the court, and those days it is even more important to fight as hard as you can and believe that you can win," Roma said of her recollections of the final of the Florida event, held at the Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater, Fla., in May. "I hope my chances are pretty good [at the national event]."

She says she is also a fan of the US Open Playoffs. "I like the idea. It is a fair way of doing it and gives everyone that wants to a chance to compete for a wildcard to a great event like the US Open."

This month the 21-year-old Roma reached a career-high ranking of No. 550. She received a wildcard into the WTA Tour event in Bastad, losing in the first round, and earlier in the year won an ITF-level event in Tampere, Finland, and lost in the final in Istanbul, Turkey. As the No. 4 seed this Friday in New Haven, she will start in the first round against American Peggy Porter, the 16-year-old who won the USTA Texas Section event.

Boca Raton's 17-year-old Abaza will in the first round will face Giuliana Olmos of Mexico, who won the USTA Northern California women's event. Abaza was absent from this year's US Open Playoffs-Florida event, the tournament she captured the women's title at in 2010, due to a conflict in her tournament schedule, and instead played the New England event. Abaza is currently at No. 573 on the WTA Rankings, with her best pro result this year a semifinal at the ITF event in Hilton Head, S.C.

The Miami club tennis director Eric Hechtman will in his opening round meet Adam Lee of New Zealand, who won the USTA Southern Section men's title. Hechtman in the Florida Section final beat former No. 174-ranked ATP player Ryler DeHeart 6-4, 7-5.

"If someone were to come out of the playoffs and then qualie for the US Open, what a storyline that would be," Hechtman said.

Hechtman won the Florida high school state championships three years in a row, and was the No. 3 recruited player in the nation going into college. He attended the University of Miami, was the Hurricanes' team captain for three years, and still holds the school's record for the most all-time wins. He has also served as hitting partner for tour players such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Venus and Serena Williams. 

The US Open National Playoffs Championships are the second phase of the US Open National Playoffs. They feature the winners or top finishers from each of this year's 13 sectional qualifying tournaments in a single-elimination tournament, with the champions advancing to the 2012 US Open Qualifying Tournament.

For more information or for updated results, go to http://usta.usopen.org/US-Open/2012_us_open_national_playoffs.






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