Club tennis director Eric Hechtman won the men's singles championship on a rain-delayed Monday at the US Open Playoffs-Florida tournament in Clearwater, defeating former No. 174-ranked ATP player Ryler DeHeart in the final 6-4, 7-5. The event was held May 26-29, 2012, at the Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex.
"My biggest key was trying not to drop a set going into the final, because I knew I needed something left in the tank for Ryler," said the 28-year-old Hechtman, who describes his playing style as "go big or go home."
The junior tennis director at Royal Palm Tennis Club in Miami, Hechtman said he was too busy coaching to train coming into the event, but said, "I feel that I have a chance [at the national event] if I train."
Hechtman gained the final by defeating Florida Gulf Coast University sophomore Tianyu Bao 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals, and in the quarterfinals topped Florida State University sophomore Dominic Cotrone 6-1, 7-6(4). DeHeart gained the final by upsetting No. 1 seed and former NCAA doubles champion Jeff Dadamo 6-4, 6-4 in the semis.
"The US Open Playoffs idea is awesome!" Hechtman said after the final. "If someone were to come out of the playoffs and then qualie for the US Open, what a storyline that would be. I just wanted to say that I'm thankful to my fiance Alexandra Restivo for sticking by me and supporting me in the event. And to my Royal Palm tennis family for all their love and support. The tournament was great!"
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.
Over the weekend in the women's final, 22-year-old Swede Sandra Roma defeated 15-year-old Jessica Ho of Tampa 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 to gain a trip to the US Open National Playoffs event. Roma in the semifinals defeated defending champion Caroline Dailey 6-4, 6-0.
|Mixed doubles champions Megan Fudge and Ryler DeHeart
In the mixed doubles championship completed over the weekend, DeHeart and wife Megan Fudge defeated Franco Mata of Naples and Roma 6-2, 7-6(5).
"We started off playing really well and then got on a roller coaster ride for the second set, but was able to bring it home while making the spectators sit on the edge of their seats!" blogged Fudge for the www.ustaflorida.com
website. "Thank you to everyone that came out today to watch a great day of tennis. I cannot believe we are now only four matches away from playing in the US Open!" To read Fudge's blogs and other tournament blogs click here
Hechtman in men's singles, Roma in women's singles, and DeHeart/Fudge in mixed doubles advance to represent USTA Florida at the US Open National Playoffs. All three national men's, women's and mixed tournaments will be held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale, presented by First Niagara, a US Open Series event. The US Open National Playoffs-Men's Singles and Women's Singles Championship will be held Aug. 17-20, 2012. The US Open National Playoffs-Mixed Doubles Championship will be held Aug. 22-25.
ABOUT THE US OPEN NATIONAL PLAYOFFS
The US Open National Playoffs returns for the third year in 2012, and again includes both men's and women's singles and mixed doubles, with USTA sectional tournaments leading to the national event. Any participant 14 years or older can earn a shot at a berth into the US Open. Men's and women's national singles champions earn a wildcard into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held the week prior to the US Open. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a main draw wildcard into the 2012 US Open.
For more information go to: www.USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs