By: Manon Eilts
The dream of playing at the US Open is one step closer to reality for four players following the USTA Missouri Valley US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournament. The tournament was held June 26-28 at Homestead Country Club in Prairie Village, Kansas and finals were moved to Overland Park Racquet Club due to weather.
Asia Muhammad from Las Vegas, took home the women’s singles title. She had a hard fought match against Nicole Melichar of Stuart, Florida that went for three hours and ended in a tie-break, 4-6; 7-6; 7-5. Muhammad, the number one seed in the tournament had a first-round bye, then beat Madeline Lipp of Lake Forest, Illinois in the second round to face Ayaka Okuno of Cupertino, California who is coached by singer Redfoo of the band LMFAO, in the quarterfinals. After beating Okuno in straight sets, Muhammad faced Caroline Dolehide from Hinsdale, Illinois in the semis. She won 6-3, 7-5, to earn a spot in the final match Saturday morning.
The men’s singles champion was Sanam Singh of Charlottesville, Virgina. Despite playing with a crowd that was clearly there to support his opponent, Ross Guignon of Prairie Village, Kansas, Singh took it in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Singh, the number one seed swept through the bracket taking down Austin Williams of Wichita, Kansas in the first round, John Lamble of Saratoga, California in the quarterfinals and Konrad Zieba of Glenview, Illinois in the semifinals.
In mixed doubles, women’s runner-up Nicole Melichar partnered with Roeland Park, Kansas resident Patrick Smith to challenge women’s champion Asia Muhammad and her fellow Las Vegan, Brian Battistone. Battistone entertained the crowd at Overland Park Racquet Club with his unconventional racquet that has two grips and his volleyball-like power serve. Melichar and Smith, who was defending his mixed doubles title from 2013’s US Open National Championships, took the first set 6-1, only to lose the second set 2-6 and then face a battle for the title in a third set tie-break, 10-2. Melichar and Battistone successfully partnered in 2012 to win the mixed doubles title at the USTA Missouri Valley US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournament.
The men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champions from each sectional qualifying tournament will advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Singles Championship, held August 15-18, and the Mixed Doubles Championship, held August 20-23. All three tournaments will take place in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event.
The past champions of the US Open National Playoffs are:
Year-Men’s Singles-Women’s Singles-Mixed Doubles
2013 Nick Papac-Vicki Flores-Victoria Lozano/Patrick Smith
2012 Clement Reix-Alexandra Mueller-Nicole Melichar/Brian Battistone
2011 Blake Strode-Robin Anderson-David Martin/Christina Fusano
2010 Blake Strode-Alexandra Mueller-Not held