As the US Open National Playoffs Qualifying Tournament moved into the singles quarterfinals on Sunday, matches became more competitive and drew many notable college players in the draws. But, two former WTA Tour players showed why experience is propelling them into the limelight here at the Windward Lake Club in Alpharetta, Ga.
Winners here in men’s and women’s singles and mixed doubles will advance to the US Open National Playoffs in New Haven, Conn. Singles winners move into the US Open Qualifying Tournament while the mixed doubles winners advanced to the US Open main draw.
Jewel Peterson, who reached 214 in the world, was asked how it would feel to return to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. "That’s why I’m here. That’s the goal. …. I want to get back there some time, some way and I believe I will."
Peterson played the first Southern Sectional Tournament two years ago but had a rocky road and fell early. Rededicated to working on her game, she said, "I truly believe the Lord Jesus Christ is helping me play. Because it’s been two full years since I played this tournament. I feel confident going forward because I know this is where I’m supposed to be."
On Sunday she defeated Elizabeth Kilborn 6-4, 6-1 and will face Mary Anne Macfarlane of the Alabama Crimson Tide in Monday’s semifinals.
Running the Peterson School of Tennis is Peterson’s full-time activity. The academy just receive a grant from USTA Serves. "Anytime you get the support to help kids in your area and to get exposure to tennis, it’s fantastic. Not only in tennis but helping them become champions off the court as well. Positive people, positive role models. … Changing lives one stroke at a time. That’s the legacy my late father created" in founding the school.
One hometown player, Lindsay Lee-Waters, just came back from Wimbledon qualifying, laughed when asked about playing Saturday in the hottest day in Georgia history. "It was cold in London." She said she picked up a cold coming back to the Southern heat. "I’ve been drinking water and Gatorade."
Lee-Waters, who hit a high of world No. 33 in 1996, and American Megan Moulton-Levy made it though Wimbledon qualifying but lost in the first round of the main draw earlier this week.
Competing in mixed doubles here, Lee-Waters and her partner, Marcus Hurtig, who has played on in ITF events and the USTA Pro Circuit, defeated Gilberto Alvarez and Julia Dimitrov 7-6(1); 6-2 to set up a semifinal showdown with Peterson and Eric Jackson.
"I’ve never played mixed doubles at the US Open so that would be exciting for me to do," she said. "The competition is going to be really tough. … The biggest thing is to keep in shape."
Her tip to up-and-coming players is: "Don’t get to high from the wins and too low from the losses because you’re going to lose more than you win."