WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., August 18, 2016 – The USTA today announced the 16 men and 16 women who will compete in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Singles Championships, held Aug. 19-22 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Conn. The tournament is held in conjunction with the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, the final Emirates Airline US Open Series women’s event of the summer.
The respective men’s and women’s US Open National Playoffs winners will receive a wild card into the 2016 US Open Qualifying Tournament, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., the home of the US Open, Aug. 23-26.
In all, 1,127 players (735 men and 392 women) competed in the seventh year of the US Open National Playoffs in singles at one of 15 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments held throughout the United States, with the winners and select runners-up qualifying for the Championships. The US Open National Playoffs are designed to bring the spirit of the US Open to cities and sections across the country, making the US Open eligible to anyone and everyone 14 and over with the passion to compete, regardless of playing ability or nationality.
Men’s Singles Preview
Three men competing in the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship have competed at the US Open: Gage Brymer (2013 qualifying), Tyler Hochwalt (2005 and 2006 juniors) and Jesse Witten (2006 and 2009 singles; six times in qualifying).
Nearly all of the participants have played college tennis, and five will be playing collegiately this fall: Brymer (UCLA), Shawn Hadavi (Columbia), Martin Joyce (Ohio State), Eric Rutledge (Rice) and Terrence Whitehurst (Florida State). In addition, nine players were college standouts: Henry Craig (Denver), Hochwalt (Florida), Patrick Kawka (BYU), Evan King (Michigan), Hunter Koontz (Virginia Tech), Nicolas Meister (UCLA), Eric Quigley (Kentucky), Cameron Silverman (Elon) and Witten (Kentucky).
Four of these players will be participating in at least one other US Open National Playoffs Championship event. Kawka and Meister will also be competing in the Men’s Doubles Championship, while King will be competing in the Mixed Doubles Championship. Quigley will be competing in all three events.
The oldest player in the Men’s Singles Championship is the 33-year-old Witten, who won last year’s National Playoffs Men’s Singles Championship. Joyce and Rutledge are the youngest players at 19.
Women’s Singles Preview
Four women competing in the Women’s Singles Championship will be vying for a chance to return to the US Open stage after competing at the US Open previously: Jacqueline Cako (2014 mixed doubles), Julia Elbaba (2010 and 2011 juniors), Ayaka Okuno (2011, 2012 and 2013 juniors), and Ashley Weinhold (2006 mixed and women’s doubles; 2007 singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles; 2006, 2011 and 2012 qualifying).
Five of the women competing will be participating in multiple events at this year’s US Open National Playoffs Championships. Sophie Chang, Nika Kukharchuk, Sanaz Marand and Ashley Weinhold will be playing in two events, while Jacqueline Cako will be taking part in all three championship events open to women: singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
Cako, a former Arizona State University All-American, is the only woman at the US Open National Playoffs Championships who is a past National Playoffs champion; she teamed with Joel Kielbowicz in 2014 to win the Mixed Doubles Championship. Margaryta Bilokin, a standout junior player in New England, is the youngest player in the competition at age 15. She is joined by teenagers Sara Choy, 16; Elyse Lavender, 17; Daavettila, 18; Fernanda Contreras Gomez, 18; and Chang, 19.
The oldest player in the Women’s Singles Championship is the 29-year-old Kukharchuk, who has been here before. Kukharchuk advanced past the sectional qualifying tournament stage each year from 2012 through 2014.
The US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Doubles Championship field will take place Aug. 20-23, the Men’s Doubles Championship field will take place Aug. 21-24, and the Mixed Doubles Championship will take place Aug. 24-27. The winning teams in the doubles draws earn main draw wild cards into the US Open. In all, 994 players (408 men’s doubles, 200 women’s doubles, 386 mixed doubles) competed in the seventh year of the US Open National Playoffs in doubles at one of 15 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments held throughout the United States, with the winners and select runners-up qualifying for the Championships.
The US Open men’s and women’s doubles championships begin Aug. 30 and the US Open mixed doubles championship begins Aug. 31 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
The 2016 US Open is scheduled to take place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11.
US Open National Playoffs information is available at www.USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs.