Brian Battistone hits a backhand with his two handed racquet.
By McCarton Ackerman
The top two seeds in the US Open National Playoffs Mixed Doubles Championships made it through their semifinal matches today at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., putting them both within one match of a coveted wild card into the main draw of the mixed doubles event at this year’s US Open.
No. 2 seeds Nicole Melichar and Brian Battistone of the U.S. only needed one break of serve in each set to advance past the American husband-wife team of Megan Fudge and Ryler DeHeart with a 6-3, 6-4 scoreline. The duo broke Fudge in her first service game of the match and then once again at 3-3 in the second set with an overhead winner from Battistone.
"It really came down to a few of those no-ad deciding points in the deuce games and could have gone either way had they won those," said Battistone. "Luckily my partner stepped up like she always does."
Battistone also competed last week in the men’s singles draw of the US Open National Playoffs Championships, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Clement Reix of France.
"Having those extra matches helped me so much in the mixed here," said Battistone. "I arrived in New Haven from the west coast the day before the tournament started, so I’ve been able to get adjusted to the balls and conditions for over a week now."
Battistone retired last year after five years as an ATP Tour doubles specialist playing almost exclusively with brother Dann. He reached a career high ranking of No. 88 in 2010 and competed in the main draw of the Men’s Doubles event at the US Open that year.
The 19-year-old Melichar has been playing a heavy schedule on the pro tour this year, improving her ranking nearly 250 spots to her current career high of No. 409 on the WTA Tour. She’s won two $10,000 futures event in Turkey so far in 2012.
For Melichar, a win tomorrow would mark the first time she’s ever played in a Grand Slam, something that she says would be the highlight of her career.
"I’m trying to go one match at a time, but of course it would be a dream come true if I could make it to the US Open," said Melichar. "We definitely have a shot at winning tomorrow."
In the other semifinal, No. 1 seeds Hilary Barte and Nicolas Meister of the U.S. recovered from dropping the first set to advance into Saturday’s championships with a 5-7, 6-1, 10-6 over Lindsay Lee-Waters of the U.S. and Marcus Hurtig of Australia. The first set was a series of missed opportunities for the top seeds, who only converted on one out of eight break point opportunities, while Lee-Waters and Hurtig made good on their two break point chances in the match, wrapping up the set with a double fault from Barte.
Barte and Meister cleaned up the errors in their game in the second set, racing out to a 4-0 lead in just 15 minutes. An overhead winner from Barte wrapped up the second set and then the duo took a 6-0 lead in the match tiebreaker before closing things out.
Meister wrapped out a standout college tennis career at UCLA this year, while Barte did the same at Stanford last year. Meister has since gone on to turn pro and is currently ranked No. 562 in singles on the ATP Tour.
Meister also competed in the Men’s Singles Championships of the US Open National Playoffs last week, where he lost in the finals. While he is looking to win the mixed event here and make his debut at a Grand Slam with the coveted wild card, Barte has already competed at the US Open twice by way of winning the NCAA Women’s Doubles Championships in 2010 and 2011, reaching the second round in doubles at the US Open in 2011.
"I think it’s really exciting to have the opportunity to get back to the US Open," said Barte. "There’s no other way to put it. Especially going with someone like Nick, who’s such an amazing player. It would be so much fun if we make it there."
The championship match for the 2012 US Open National Playoffs Mixed Doubles Championship will take place on Saturday on the Grandstand court at 11:30 a.m. The winning team will receive a wild card into the main draw of the US Open Mixed Doubles Championships, held from August 27-September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.
US Open National Playoffs--Mixed Doubles Championships
Friday, August 24
Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
Mixed Doubles - Semifinals
Hilary Barte and Nicolas Meister, United States (1), def. Lindsay Lee-Waters, United States, and Marcus Hurtig, Australia, 5-7, 6-1, 10-7
Nicole Melichar and Brian Battistone, United States (2), def. Ryler DeHeart and Megan Fudge, United States, 6-3, 6-4