Scorching hot temperatures topping 100 degrees greeted over 100 tennis players in Alpharetta, GA for the final USTA section to host their US Open National Playoff qualifying tournament, the Southern Section.
For the second year in a row the luxurious Windward Lake Club in Alpharetta, Ga. is hosting the tournament, which runs from June 29 to July 3 and again includes both men’s and women’s singles and mixed doubles. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs to expand the footprint of the US Open to cities nationwide by providing the opportunity for all players 14 years of age and older to earn a berth into the US Open. The USTA Southern is the last of 13 sections to hold qualifying.
Winners in the 12 other sections include former and current touring professionals, teching pros and an assortment of college and junior players. The draw here in Atlanta is really a mix of the old and the new.
WTA Tour pros, Lindsay Lee-Waters and Jewel Peterson will join a slew of top college players and multiple high-ranking juniors in this year in Alpharetta for what promises to be one of the toughest sections to get through and earn your ticket for the finals in New Haven, later this summer.
Lee-Waters is fresh off the plane from playing doubles at Wimbledon and Peterson earned a career high WTA ranking of No. 214 in 2004, she was a three-time letterman at the University of Southern California.
In the men’s field, Hunter Reese is a University of Tennessee player who earned SEC second team honors this season. The freshman from Kennesaw is favored in the men’s draw.
Along with playing in the singles tournaments, Hunter Reese and Natalie Pluskota, a Tennessee All-American, will be teaming up to take on the field in mixed doubles. The two Volunteers should make a tough combo in the qualifiers.
Whitney Kay will pair up with her twin brother Casey in mixed play. The siblings are up-and-comers as they have just began their college careers.
Lindsay Lee-Waters is set to team up with Marcus Hurtig of Woodstock as well, when the mixed doubles begin on Sunday.
Winners on the women’s side today included Brittany Craig of Georgia, a local in Allison Miller and Julia O’Loughlin, a junior player from Florida.
All the top players will be in action on Saturday as temperatures may go as high as 106.
The US Open National Playoffs men’s and women’s singles champions earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which takes place one week prior to the 2012 US Open. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a main draw wild card into the 2012 US Open.
The US Open National Playoffs begin as a series of sectional qualifying tournaments held in 13 USTA Sections throughout the country, including Alpharetta. The 13 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, a US Open Series event, presented by First Niagara. The US Open National Playoffs Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles Championship will be held August 17-20. The US Open National Playoffs Mixed Doubles Championship will be held August 22-25.