Players from across the Southwest and other parts of the country took step one in a summer-long journey to try to make the US Open by competing in the US Open National Playoff Southwest Section Qualifying Tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The tournament, held May 18-20 at Scottsdale Ranch Park, is one of 13 regional tournaments held and put on by the USTA, as part of the largest and most diverse series of open tournaments in the country, and an attempt to bring the US Open down to a local level.
Players compete in men's and women's singles as well as mixed doubles in these various regional tournaments - the Southwest being one of the 13 - with the hope of advancing to the US Open National Playoff in New Haven, Conn., a week prior to the US Open. From there, National Playoff winners in men's and women's singles will take a stab at the US Open Qualifying rounds, hoping to run the gauntlet for main draw entry into the US Open. Mixed winners at the National Open will move directly to the main draw.
At the Southwest event in May, 16-year-old junior Robert Seby (pictured above) claimed the men's title. Mixing his usual game of guile and craft with a newly developing serve. Seby, who hails from Oro Valley, Ariz. upset former Top 700 pro Angelo Niculescu of Oregon (and two-time advancee to the US Open National Playoffs in 2010 and 2011) in the semfinals with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win.
The upset fueled Seby a day later in the final, as he waltzed past fellow teenager, 19-year-old Mitchell Maroscher (Salem, Ohio) 6-3, 6-2. Maroscher recently completed his freshman year at Scottsdale Community College, helping lead the Artichokes to a fourth place national finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships in Texas just a couple weeks ago.
In the women's field, former All-American and Arizona State Sundevil Kelcy McKenna (pictured right) downed Scottsdale junior Alexandra Letzt in a back-and-forth 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 final to earn her spot in New Haven.
Letzt, one of the top-ranked juniors in the country in girls 16s (No. 20) and a perennial top player in the Southwest, took a solid crack at the former No. 1 player for Arizona State in the final, but came up just a hair short from the finish line.
McKenna blazed to an early 5-3 lead in the first set and looked in control, before Letzt stormed back to take the set in a tiebreaker.
The match appeared lost for McKenna in the second set, as she trailed 4-1. But McKenna recovered, running off nine of the final 13 games to pull out the win.
The day wasn't through for McKenna, who teamed with former Boise State player Stephen Robertson (Tualatin, Ore.) to claim the mixed title with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Jesse Ponwith (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Lauren Colalillo (Mesa, Ariz.) in the mixed doubles final.
The winners or top available finishers from each of the 13 sectional qualifying tournaments held throughout the spring and summer 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.