Elliot Orkin (left) won the Southern men's title.
© Matt Hacker/USTA Southern
Allison Miller (left) won the Southern women's title.
© Jared Morgan/USTA Southern
By Matt Hacker & Jared Morgan/USTA Southern
Georgians led the charge as Elliott Orkin, Allison Miller, Danie van den Heever and Whitney McCray won the US Open National Playoffs Southern Qualifying Tournament today and yesterday at the Sandy Springs (Ga.) Tennis Center.
Except for McCray, who comes from Houston, all the rest of the champions and finalists are from metro Atlanta.
Orkin downs Gotkowski
Orkin, of Marketta, Ga., faced off against Trevor Gotkowski at 10 am Friday morning. A slightly overcast day led to a display of tennis in dominating fashion.
Gotkowski, of Cartersville, Ga.,, stole a game from Orkin after going down 0-3, but after that it was all Orkin. Orkin won the match in a little over an hour beating his opponent 6-1, 6-0.
Even though it was a devastating loss, Gotkowski was all smiles after the match. Gotkowski and Orkin have the same coach, Stephen Diaz, and have known each other for awhile. Their coach was in attendance and congratulated them both on their performances.
Orkin now goes to New Haven, Connecticut to represent USTA Southern in the US Open National Playoffs Championships. If Orkin wins in Connecticut, he will receive a wild card to participate in the US Open Qualifying Tournament.
Gotkowski has committed to Wofford College to play on the Men’s Tennis Team.
Miller knocks off long-time friend Patterson
Two long-time friends from Georgia, Allison Miller and Laura Patterson, took to battle Thursday for the Women’s final. Playing under a hot sun on Sandy Springs Tennis Center’s Stadium Court, Miller was able to grind out a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 championship victory.
The road to the finals could not have been more dissimilar for the two players. Norcross, Ga. resident Miller, who recently committed to the University of Notre Dame, cruised to the championship with three easy victories, while Patterson, a top 2014 recruit, outlasted three notable names en route to the finals. These names included: Sherazad Benamar (currently in the Top 500 on the WTA Tour), Kendal Woodard (plays for Georgia Tech) and Jewel Peterson (former WTA Pro).
The start of the championship revealed just how evenly matched the two players were, with Patterson, of Roswell, Ga., barely taking the lead 3-2. Yet Miller, who is known for her consistent play, found her rhythm and was able to rally off four straight games to take the first set 6-3.
The second set was all Patterson however, who pressured Miller with her flat, hard-hitting forehand time and time again. Patterson was able to easily capture the second set 6-2.
The third set proved to be an exciting one, with the two competitors exchanging heavy balls for long rallies, despite their fatigue. It was Miller’s steady play and tireless attitude, though, that allowed her to take the final set 6-3, ultimately crowning her as this year’s champion.
Following the match, the two showed the utmost respect for one another, with their friendship being unaffected by the day’s match.
Van den Heever/McCray take Mixed Doubles title
The Mixed Doubles Final also took place in the late afternoon of yesterday, with Danie van den Heever, of Cumming, Ga., and Whitney McCray, of Houston, powering through to a 7-6(4), 6-1 win. The pair faced off against Georgia Tech duo Nathan Rakitt and Kendal Woodard. Rakitt is from Marietta, Ga., and Woodard hails from Stockbridge, Ga.
The US Open National Playoffs begin as a series of sectional qualifying tournaments, held this year in 13 USTA sections. The men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champions or top available finishers from each sectional qualifying tournament advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Championships. The Men’s and Women’s Singles Championships will be held August 16-19, and the Mixed Doubles Championship are slated for August 21-24. All three events take place in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event. Mixed doubles winners advance to the US Open main draw. The two singles champions advance to the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which consists of a 128-player draw with 16 players advancing to the main draw.