The American-Australian team of Lindsay Lee-Waters and Marcus Hurtig
© Mike Ross
By McCarton Ackerman
The two seeded teams in the US Open National Playoffs Mixed Doubles Championships kicked off their campaigns at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., easily winning their opening round matches to advance to the semifinals.
No. 1 seeds Hilary Barte and Nicolas Meister were in control from the start of their quarterfinal match, winning 11 consecutive games on their way to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over American Meghan Kelley and Daniel Quiceno of Colombia. The pair didn’t face a break point on their serve throughout the match and only dropped seven points in the second set.
Meister wrapped out a standout college tennis career at UCLA this year, while Barte did the same at Stanford last year, but Meister has since turned pro and is currently ranked No. 562 in singles on the ATP Tour. The pair have known each other since they were junior players competing in southern California.
"We first met when we were 13 and always ended up playing the same tournaments growing up," said Meister. "It only took me 10 years to ask her to play with me!"
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 Championship 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 No. 2 seeded team of Nicole Melichar and Brian Battistone also easily moved into the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Americans Madison Westby and Blake Boswell. 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 American-Australian team of Lindsay Lee-Waters and Marcus Hurtig also continued their strong form by winning the first eight games of the match on their way to a 6-0, 6-3 win over the American-Latvian team of Sonia Abelson and Pjotr Necajevs. Lee-Waters is still active on the WTA Tour after a 15 year career and now plays as a doubles specialist currently ranked No. 102. Shortly after the match, she also won her quarterfinal match in the women’s doubles event at the New Haven Open with American Megan Moulton-Levy. The women’s pair will play its semifinal on Friday afternoon.
The American husband-wife team of Ryler DeHeart and Megan Fudge rounded out the final four by rallying from a break down in the second set to prevail 6-3, 6-4 over Alison Ramos of the U.S. and West Nott of the Marshall Islands. DeHeart competed on the ATP Tour for five years, reaching career high rankings in 2010 of No. 174 in singles and No. 120 in doubles before retiring in 2011. He also reached the second round of the US Open in 2008, where he lost to Rafael Nadal in a night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. DeHeart recently accepted a coaching position on the men’s tennis team at the University of Alabama.
Both semifinal matches in the US Open National Playoffs Mixed Doubles Championship will take place on Friday. No. 2 seeds Melichar and Battistone will take the court first against Fudge and DeHeart, while No. 1 seeds Barte and Meister will play Lee-Waters and Hurtig on stadium court in the evening session.
The tournament concludes on Saturday and 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
Thursday, August 23
Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
Mixed Doubles - Quarterfinals
Hilary Barte and Nicolas Meister, United States (1), def. Meghan Kelley, United States, and Daniel Quiceno, Colombia, 6-1, 6-0
Nicole Melichar and Brian Battistone, United States (2), def. Madison Westby and Blake Boswell, United States, 6-2, 6-3
Ryler DeHeart and Megan Fudge, United States, def. Alison Ramos, United States, and West Nott, Marshall Islands, 6-3, 6-4
Lindsay Lee-Waters, United States, and Marcus Hurtig, Australia, def. Sonia Abelson, United States, and Pjotr Necajevs, Latvia, 6-0 6-3