'Real Housewives' stars de Lesseps, Zarin bring the glam to US Open National Playoffs

June 10, 2014 09:32 AM
LuAnn de Lesseps held her own during her mixed doubles match in the US Open National Playoffs Eastern Sectional Qualifying Tournament.
'Real Housewives of NYC' stars Jill Zarin (Left) and LuAnn de Lesseps pose before their matches at the US Open National Playoffs Eastern Sectional Qualifying Tournament.

By McCarton Ackerman,

'Real Housewives of New York City’ stars LuAnn de Lesseps and Jill Zarin competing for a spot in the US Open might sound like part of a storyline for the hit Bravo reality show, but they did just that when they took the court on Monday at the US Open National Playoffs Eastern Sectional Qualifying Tournament, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Competing in the mixed doubles event, de Lesseps and Elliott Pettit, a teaching pro at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and Zarin and Kyle Owens, a teaching pro at the Murphy Jensen Tennis Academy in Sea Island, Ga, fought gamely against former college tennis stars who are among the heavy favorites to prevail in the sectional qualifying tournament, but lost in their opening round matches. De Lesseps and Pettit fell to Nina Pantic and Richard Blumenfeld, 6-1, 6-1, while Zarin and Owens and  lost to Elizabeth Kobak and Cory Parr, 6-0, 6-1.

But despite her loss, de Lesseps loved the experience of playing for a spot in the final Grand Slam of the year.

“I practiced last night. Obviously that wasn’t enough,” said de Lesseps with a laugh. “[But] I think doing this tournament and giving regular people the opportunity to play at the Open is amazing. I think everybody should give it a chance and have that experience.”

It’s a sentiment that Zarin agreed with. “It’s an incredible opportunity to have that wild card chance to compete at the US Open,” she said. It’s like ‘American Idol.’ You never know who might sneak in through this door and end up in the quarterfinals.”

Currently starring in the sixth season of 'Housewives,' de Lesseps is an avid tennis player who regularly attends the US Open. She’s even managed to rub shoulders with some of the greats of the game.

“I did an appearance last year with Andy Roddick, which was really fun. It was very impressive [seeing] his slingshot serve,” she said. “I love Nadal, so I’m looking forward to seeing him play this year.”

Zarin was certainly the most vocal of the players during her mixed doubles match, shouting encouragement to her partner and even her opponents. She also was responsible for the biggest celebration of the day when she held held her serve in the second set to get her team on the board.

“What I was most nervous about was the spin [because] I don’t know how to return a spin ball. But Cory was such a gentleman and took his level down to my level,” she said. “If we went five or six balls back and forth, then he’d start raising the level of difficulty. But there were a couple of those points that I won, so I was happy about that.”

Zarin is an active tennis player who has participated in Chris Evert’s celebrity tennis event, in addition to taking part in other tennis charity events. She’s also a native New Yorker who makes it a point to attend the US Open each year.

“It’s the atmosphere. It’s the food and the clothes. It’s the luxury suites,” she said. "Coming to the US Open is about the tennis, but it’s also about the experience. I’ve even been here when it rains and it’s still fun.”

But now that de Lesseps and Zarin are out of the tournament, the big question remains as to who would win between them in a singles match. While Zarin believed that “on any given day, one of us could beat the other,” de Lesseps was slightly more confident with her response.

“I’d probably win,” she said. “I’m better.”



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