14-Year-Old Flores, Papac win Missouri Valley titles

Vicki Flores, a 14-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa, took home the women’s singles title at the USTA Missouri Valley US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournament at the Homestead Country Club in Prairie Village, Kansas, June 27-30. 

Flores, who won the Girl’s 16s championship at the USTA Missouri Valley Sweet 16 tournament last week and trains in Kansas City, defeated Victoria Lozano of Moscow, Idaho, 6-4, 6-3. Flores had a first-round bye, then beat Helena Malinakova of Lawrence, Kansas, in the second round to square off against Mission Hills-native Sara Goodwin in the quarterfinals. After dispatching Goodwin in straight sets, Flores faced Shawnee Mission East senior Olivia Sneed in the semis. She triumphed over Sneed, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2, to earn a spot in the final match Saturday morning.

Flores could be the youngest competitor at the US Open National Playoffs in New Haven, Connecticut. If she advanced to the US Open, she would be in good company, as Tracy Austin, at the age of 14, is the youngest player ever to win a professional tournament. She defeated Chris Evert at the Italian open in 1979.

Lozano, who will be a senior on the University of Idaho women’s tennis team, did not go away empty-handed, however. She went on to win the mixed doubles bracket with her partner, Patrick Smith, from Roeland Park, Kansas. The duo took on Madison Westby and Cale Hammond, both from Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the championship contest, winning 7-6, 6-4, to move on to the national playoffs.

The men’s singles final saw its own version of the Bedlam Series between Chris Haworth (Oklahoma City) of Oklahoma State University and Nick Papac of Oklahoma University. Both play for their respective college squads, but had never faced each other before the match. Papac, who is from Norman, Oklahoma, came out victorious, 6-3, 6-1, after battling cramps for much of the tournament.

The winners advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles Championships, to be held during the New Haven Open at Yale, an Emirates Airline US Open Series women’s event, in August. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a main draw wild card into the 2013 US Open, while the men’s and women’s singles champions earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament held the week prior to the US Open.

The past champions of the US Open National Playoffs are:

Year    Men’s Singles        Women’s Singles        Mixed Doubles
2012    Clement Reix       Alexandra Mueller          Nicole Melichar/Brian Battistone
2011    Blake Strode        Robin Anderson              David Martin/Christina Fusano
2010    Blake Strode        Alexandra Mueller           Not held

The US Open Qualifying Tournament will be held August 20-23 and the US Open Mixed Doubles Championship begins August 28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The 2013 US Open begins on August 26.


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