|Jesse Witten at the 2009 US Open
Play kicked off Saturday at the 2013 US Open National Playoffs-Florida Section tournament, held on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee May 25-28.
Top-seeded Jeff Dadamo received a bye in his first round, then advanced into the quarterfinals when Danny Riggs, grandson of tennis legend Bobby Riggs, retired with injury in the first set trailing 1-4.
In the quarterfinals Dadamo will meet last year's Florida Section champion, Miami teaching pro Eric Hechtman. Dadamo and fellow Floridian Austin Krajicek won the 2011 NCAA Doubles Championship playing for Texas A&M.
Also into the quarterfinals Saturday were Deerfield Beach's Daniel Canellas, FSU's Joao Gauer, Bradenton FSU incoming freshman Grayson Goldin, FSU incoming freshman Parker Evertsen from Marietta, Ga., and East Carolina University's Ross Nigro who will next meet No. 2 seed Jesse Witten.
The former ATP pro and Naples resident Witten is best known for his 2009 underdog run at the US Open where he qualified to the main draw before upsetting No. 29 seed Igor Andreev, Maximo Gonzalez, then stretching Novak Djokovic to four sets before bowing out of the event.
In the women's draw on Saturday two players advanced into the semifinals. Tennessee incoming freshman Brittany Lindl of Panama City defeated Windermere's Simone Vranov 6-4, 6-4. She will next meet top seed Loreto Alonso of Oviedo, Fla./Spain, a player for the University of South Florida who received an opening-round bye.
Also advancing was 2013 FSU graduate Amy Sargeant, who defeated Pensacola teaching pro Krysta Lee 6-1, 6-2. Sargeant in the semis will meet Lake Mary's Kasia Osadzinska.
Witten and his older sister Sarah, who played for the University of Kentucky, also advanced into the mixed doubles semifinals where they will next face Vranov and fellow Windermere resident Felepe Resende.
The US Open remains the only of the four Grand Slams to open its pre-qualifying to all players age 14 or over in men's singles, women's singles, and mixed doubles.
The Florida winners in all three categories will advance to the national tournament featuring the USTA section winners. The US Open National Playoffs men's and women's national singles champions earn a wildcard into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held the week prior to the US Open. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a wildcard into the main draw of the 2013 US Open Mixed Doubles.
More than 1,200 players competed in the 2012 US Open National Playoffs, ranging from experienced professionals who were once ranked in the Top 50, to upcoming junior players, to current and former college standouts, to recreational players of all playing abilities and walks of life.
Participants have included those competing for charities as well as pastors, musicians, lawyers, reporters and stay-at-home mothers. Former notable participants include Olympic skier Bode Miller and ESPN's Mike Greenberg, who teamed with six-time US Open champion Chris Evert in mixed doubles.