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Tennis Players of All Calibers as US Open Playoffs-Florida Draws Unveiled

May 23, 2012 01:44 PM
2011 US Open Playoffs-Florida women's champion Caroline Dailey (left) and runner-up Clarke Tatje
The men's, women's, and mixed doubles draws have been released for the USTA's 2012 US Open Playoffs-Florida Section tournament. As in past years, unique entries and match-ups abound in the tournament where players age 14 to 114 can compete against each other in the same draw, with the winners on the road to a possible wildcard into the 2012 US Open.

Tennis enthusiasts from USTA League and adult tournament players to beginning juniors, junior competitive, former ATP and WTA pros, and just weekend hackers will gather May 26, in Clearwater, Fla., at the Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex where first-round match-ups will commence.

Chris De Tone, 44 years old from Clearwater, is one of a handful of players who has entered USTA Florida Section event all three years of its existence.

"I will continue to enter as long as they permit it," said De Tone, who lost 6-0, 6-0 in his previous attempt. "To be a part of the US Open process? Why wouldn't I enter? This year, maybe I can get a game, maybe not. Who cares! I really believe that all players should give it a try. If you love tennis, just take a chance! It's worth it to just be a part of it."

De Tone will likely be in for a more competitive match this year, as he will start in the first round against men's 4.0-level player Joey Canamo of Orlando.

Aaron Medvick of Tampa is another 4.0-level player (on the 7.0 National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) scale, with 1.5-3.0 the beginner level up to 7.0 for pro players) who describes his playing style as "serve and pray." He says he plays the US Open Playoffs "for fun and to say I did it. I expect to win around 10 points, but I think it sounds awesome." Medvick will face men's 45s age group tournament competitor Dale Mullin of Ormond Beach in his opening match.

Draw highlights:


17-year-old Caroline Dailey of Sarasota is defending her title from last year, but will have plenty of competition from fellow teens to current and former college players. At one end of the spectrum is 14-year-old Ava Schultz from Brazil, who trains at the IMG/Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, and says, "I have a dream that one day I will be in [the] US Open. I believe this will be an amazing experience to me...to my life."

On the other end of the spectrum is 22-year-old Swedish WTA pro Sandra Roma (who trains in Naples), currently at No. 945 on the WTA Rankings, with her most recent pro event the ITF Bastad tournament earlier this month where she upset the No. 8 seed before losing second round. Roma, the top seed this weekend in Clearwater, in her opening match will face 17-year-old Orlando-based Maria Cespedes, who plays for Lake Nona High School.

One junior to keep your eye on will be Tampa's 15-year-old Jessica Ho, who earlier this year captured the USTA Winter National Girl's 16s and USTA Spring Championship Girl's 16 titles, beating out the best competition in her age group in the U.S.

Also competing will be Lake Mary's Kasia Osadzinska, a 4.5-level women's 45s competitor who also played the event last year; and last year's third-place finisher Simone Vranov of Windermere, who lost to the champion Dailey in the semifinals.


Top-seeded in the men's draw is Tampa's Jeff Dadamo, who won the NCAA National Indoor Doubles Championship with fellow Floridian Austin Krajicek while at Texas A&M. He is currently making his way on the pro tour, and in his first round will face boys' 18s tournament competitor Rohit Navelkar of Tampa.

Likely to eventually meet Dadamo in the semifinals is former ATP pro Ryler DeHeart of Tampa, who is unseeded as he has no current ATP points. In his opening round DeHeart, who lost to Rafael Nadal at the 2008 US Open, will meet men's 4.0-level player Janis Krums of Sarasota, the CEO of Elementz Nutrition. Krums made news in 2009 when he was on a ferry in the Hudson River in New York City when Flight 1549, piloted by Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, made an emergency landing approximately 200 yards from his ferry. He ended up helping passengers to safety from the plane.

Also competing are teenager Danny Riggs of Pompano Beach, grandson of former pro Bobby Riggs who famously challenged Billie Jean King to a televised "Battle of the Sexes"; former ATP Top 350-ranked Mehdi Tahiri of Beverly Hills, Fla.; 19-year-old Tianyu Bao of Bradenton, a rising sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University studying communications, who was named the 2012 Tennis Freshman of the Year for the Atlantic Sun Conference; 19-year-old Mario Becerra of Pembroke Pines, who earlier this year won the mixed doubles title and finished runner-up in the men's doubles at the USTA National Men's Open, Women's Open, and Mixed Open Clay Court Championships; No. 2-seeded and current ATP No. 1353-ranked Joe Cadogan of Lauderhill; and last year's runner-up Mark Oljaca of Bradenton.


DeHeart and wife Megan Fudge, 24, will be the prohibitive favorites in the mixed draw, as Fudge played at the top of the line-up at the University of Illinois, where the couple first met.

"I am excited to play mixed doubles with my husband Ryler as we have never competed together," said Fudge, who this year won the World TeamTennis Open League National Championships. "I think the US Open Playoffs is a fantastic idea and now they can truly call it the US 'Open.'" Fudge teaches tennis with her husband at the RD Tennis Academy in Largo, right outside of Tampa.

Teens Jessica and Jonathan Ho will also be competing together for a shot at advancing to the national event and earning a wildcard into the US Open mixed doubles main draw. "I'm playing mixed double with my brother, Jon, and I'd like to have the chance to compete for the wildcard to get in US Open," Jessica Ho says. Jonathan Ho will start as a freshman this fall for the Wake Forest tennis team. Also in the hunt for the mixed title will be Roma, the top seed in the women's singles, and her partner Franco Mata of Naples.

To see the full list of US Open Playoffs-Florida draws and competitors go to: http://tennislink.usta.com/TOURNAMENTS/TournamentHome_New/Tournament.aspx?T=123298#MP.

Winners of the US Open Playoffs-Florida men's, women's, and mixed tournaments advance to the US Open National Playoffs events. 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.

The US Open National Playoffs returns for the third year, and will again include both men's and women's singles and mixed doubles in 2012, 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.






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