The third annual US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship features players—13 in all—at various stages of their careers, from former collegiate stars to current collegiate coaches and from USTA and ITF Pro Circuit standouts to young players looking to make their mark. The goal for each, however, is the same: A spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament and, with it, a shot at the main draw of the 2012 US Open.
The players advanced to the Men’s Singles Championship—held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series event—through their respective sectional qualifying tournaments, held in 13 different USTA sections across the country.
The competitors in the Men’s Singles Championship hail from six different countries and five different continents, and they have played in tournaments all over the world. Yet for all their collective experience, only two—American Nikita Kryvonos and Frenchman Clement Reix—have previously played in the US Open Qualifying Tournament, and none of the participants has ever appeared in the singles main draw. (Kryvonos played in the doubles main draw in 2005.)
Their prior US Open experience tabs Kryvonos and Reix as the early favorites in this year’s field, but there will be plenty of competition. The most unique challenge comes from Brian Battistone, the USTA Pro Circuit doubles champion who employs a volleyball-style jump serve and a double-handled racquet that allows him to hit forehands off both sides.
Battistone is one of two players who will return in a week’s time to compete in the US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship, along with two-time UCLA All-American Nicolas Meister.
In addition to Kryvonos, who also won the Eastern title in 2010, those returning to the Men’s Championship this year include former Top 600 player Chris Wettengel, a 2010 semifinalist at this event and the only competitor to advance to the Men’s Championship all three years; former Division II national champion Dante Cipulli (who also competed in 2010); and former Top 700 player Punch Maleka (also 2010). Nolan Paige, the youngest competitor in this year’s field, won the New England sectional qualifying tournament in 2010 but was unable to compete in the Men’s Championship due to a scheduling conflict.