The USTA has announced that the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament will be held Aug. 24-27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the 2010 U.S. Open. The tournament, which offers $1 million in prize money, is free and open to the public with play beginning daily at 11:00 a.m. It will feature a men’s and women’s draw of 128 players each, with 16 men and 16 women advancing to the main draw of the U.S. Open, held Aug. 30-Sept. 12.
Players scheduled to compete in this year’s qualifying run the gamut from former Grand Slam doubles champions to an Olympic gold medal winner to mothers to rising juniors looking for a chance on one of tennis’ biggest stages.
Among this year’s competitors are accomplished international players including France’s Nicolas Mahut, who played in one of the most remarkable matches in tennis history at Wimbledon this year, losing to American John Isner, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68, in the longest match in history in both time lapsed (more than 11 hours over three days) and games played. India’s top female player Sania Mirza, who reached the fourth round of the 2005 US Open, won the 2009 Australian Open mixed doubles title with countryman Mahesh Bhupathi to become the first Indian woman to claim a Grand Slam title. Former No. 9 Nicolas Massu of Chile, swept the gold medals in singles and doubles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Mirjana Lucic of Croatia, won the 1998 Australian Open doubles title at age 15 with Martina Hingis and reached the 1999 Wimbledon semifinals.
Other women expected in the 2010 U.S. Open qualifying include Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who had one of the best showings ever as a qualifier at the U.S. Open, advancing to the fourth round in 2008; and former junior No. 1 Laura Robson of Great Britain, who won the Wimbledon girls’ singles title in 2008 and was a girls’ U.S. Open semifinalist last year. Two mothers will also compete—former world No. 51 Rossana De Los Rios, a mother of two who met her husband while competing at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and American Lindsay Lee-Waters, also a mother of two, who has played in five U.S. Open main draws and holds 28 USTA Pro Circuit titles.
Other men expected in qualifying include Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, who reached the quarterfinals of the 2008 US Open as a qualifier, equaling the best finish by a qualifier at the U.S. Open; Kei Nishikori, who in 2008 became the first Japanese man to reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open; Somdev Devvarman of India, a two-time NCAA singles champion (2007-08) at the University of Virginia; and American Alex Bogomolov Jr., who won the 2001 USTA Boys’ 18s championship to earn his first US Open main draw wild card and who holds five USTA Pro Circuit singles titles. Bogomolov Jr. served as a Touring Professional in Residence for the Napeague Tennis Club on Long Island last year.
Rising American women expected to compete include 20-year-old Alison Riske, who reached the final of the 2010 Wimbledon tune-up event in Birmingham, England, and received a main draw wild card into Wimbledon; 17-year-old Sloane Stephens, a top American junior, who won her first pro match at the WTA Tour event in Indian Wells this year; and 15-year-old Krista Hardebeck, who was profiled earlier this month in Sports Illustrated as an athlete to watch in the coming years, and reached the semifinals of the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships.
Former American college standouts competing are five-time University of Kentucky All-American Jesse Witten, who had his best Grand Slam result at the 2009 U.S. Open as a qualifier, upsetting two Top 100 players before falling to Novak Djokovic in the third round; 2003 NCAA doubles champion Rajeev Ram, who played at the University of Illinois for one semester, and helped the Illini win their first NCAA title; 2003 NCAA Division I singles champion Amer Delic, who is on the comeback trail from an injury that halted his career just six months after he qualified and reached the third round at the 2009 Australian Open.
The field is also expected to include the winners of the inaugural U.S. Open National Playoffs, which gave anyone age 14 and over the opportunity to receive a wild card into the 2010 U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament. Blake Strode, 23, of St. Louis, who won the Men’s Championship, deferred Harvard Law School in 2009 to pursue a professional tennis career and competed in the 2009 U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament, where he lost in the first round. He grew into tennis as a member of his local National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter in Ferguson, Mo., and developed into an All-American for the University of Arkansas, where he was also a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Alexandra Mueller, 22, of Abington, Pa., who won the Women’s Championship, claimed her first pro singles title at age 15, winning an ITF event in Canada. This year she has won three events on the USTA Pro Circuit.
Numerous players who compete in the U.S. Open qualifying event have posted strong results in the main draw the year they qualified and have also gone on to impressive professional careers. 2002 U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt advanced through qualifying in 1998 to make his U.S. Open debut. Former Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian made his Grand Slam tournament debut as a qualifier at the 2001 US Open and reached the third round of the main draw before losing to No. 7 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov in four sets. In 1996, Anna Kournikova reached the round of 16 in the main draw as a 15-year-old qualifier.
For more information, visit www.usta.com.