Cecil Mamiit was a regular at the US Open for an 11-year stretch. He competed in either the main draw or the qualifying on 10 occasions, and reached the second round of the main draw in 1999.
Now, four years after he took the 7 train from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center following a loss in qualifying, Mamiit, a former top junior and NCAA champion, is bidding for another shot at Open glory by competing in the US Open National Playoffs Southern California Sectional Qualifying Tournament.
The Southern California sectional qualifier is being held May 17-21 at The Claremont Club in Claremont, Calif. The winners of the 16 sectional qualifiers held nationwide advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s and Women’s Championships, which will be held this summer at the same venue as the Olympus US Open Series events in Atlanta (for the men) and Stanford, Calif. (for the women). A victory there earns a wild card into the 2010 US Open Qualifying Tournament held August 24-27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Mamiit, now 33, was born and lives in Los Angeles but grew into an elite junior as a teenager at the Bollettieri Academy in Florida. He reached the final of the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships in 1993 and defeated Justin Gimelstob to win the Easter Bowl in 1994 before committing to play college tennis back in L.A., at USC. Mamiit won the NCAA singles title as a freshman for the Trojans—becoming the first freshman to win the singles championship since John McEnroe accomplished the feat for Stanford in 1978—and turned pro immediately afterward.
As a professional, Mamiit has competed in all four Grand Slams, reaching the second round at all but Wimbledon. His US Open resume consists of four appearances in the main draw in singles and three in doubles, and he reached the second round of qualifying on two other occasions.
The speedy Mamiit, who at 5-foot-8 offsets a lack of firepower with quickness and a canny feel for the game, also reached the final of the ATP World Tour event in San Jose in 1999—when he achieved a career-high ranking of No. 72—and has excelled on the USTA Pro Circuit, ranking among the all-time leaders with 23 singles finals appearances and 12 singles titles. (He also won seven doubles titles.)
In 1999 Mamiit won a silver medal for the U.S. in the Pan American Games, losing to childhood rival Paul Goldstein in the first-ever all-American gold medal match in Pan Am Games history. In 2006 Mamiit began playing for the Philippines in Davis Cup and has represented the country each year since, compiling a 21-10 overall record.
He has curtailed his schedule over the last few years but remains in the Top 500 and, this year, has qualified for USTA Pro Circuit events in Baton Rouge, La., and Savannah, Ga.
Editor’s Note: Mamiit is facing off against former Top 50 pro Jeff Tarango in the second round of the Southern California sectional qualifier. The two played each once during their respective professional careers, with Tarango prevailing, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, during the qualifying for Indian Wells in 1997.
To see the Southern California sectional qualifying draw, click here
. And to read the US Open National Playoffs profile on Tarango, click here