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US Open National Playoffs Men's Championship Preview

November 7, 2013 12:05 PM
Jeffrey Dadamo

By Erin Bruehl

The fourth annual US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship features players at various stages of their careers, from current and former collegiate stars to former top junior players, teaching pros and USTA and ITF Pro Circuit standouts. The goal for each, however, is the same: To earn a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament and, with it, a shot at the men’s singles main draw of the 2013 US Open.

The players advanced to the Men’s Singles Championship – held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a 2013 Emirates Airline US Open Series event – through their respective sectional qualifying tournaments, held in 13 different USTA sections across the country. (Due to withdrawals and availability, 12 of the 13 sections are represented at the Men's Championship.)

The competitors in the Men’s Singles Championship range in age from 16 to 29 and have played in tournaments all over the world, including the US Open Junior Championships and the NCAA Championships. However, for all their collective experience only four – Nolan Paige, Tony Larson, Damon Gooch and Patrick Daciek – have competed in the US Open National Playoffs Championships before and none has ever competed in the US Open men’s singles draw.

Five of the competitors this year are teenagers and the one who has had the most professional success is 24-year-old Jeffrey Dadamo, the Florida champion, who could be an early favorite in this year’s field as a former NCAA doubles champion and holder of two USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles. Having been ranked as high as No. 480 in the world, Dadamo comes in battle-tested, having defeating former world No. 163 Jesse Witten in the Florida final to earn his spot in the Men’s Championship.

Former Princeton standout Matija Pecotic, the Middle States champion is the only men’s competitor also competing in the US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship.

Click here for the draw for the US Open National Playoffs - Men's Championship and click here for the National Playoffs homepage.


US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship at a Glance

What: The 2013 US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship

Where: The Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale, New Haven, Conn.

When: August 16-19 (in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event)

Who: Representatives from the US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournaments

The Seeds: Four players will be seeded, based on the ATP World Tour rankings as of Aug. 5. The seeds are as follows: 1. Jeffrey Dadamo; 2. N/A (withdrew) ; 3. Patrick Daciek; 4. Charles Boyce

The Skinny: This is the fourth year of the US Open National Playoffs. The US Open National Playoffs function as a series of tournaments held throughout the United States to make the US Open eligible to anyone and everyone 14-and-over with the passion to compete. Over 600 men played in the 13 US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournaments, with the winners or top finishers advancing to the Men’s Singles Championship. The winner of the Men’s Singles Championship earns a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held Aug. 20-23 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., home of the US Open.

History: Former University of Arkansas All-American and USTA Pro Circuit player Blake Strode emerged as the men’s singles champion in the first two years of the Men’s Championship, each time advancing to the second round of the US Open Qualifying Tournament. Last year’s champion, Frenchman Clement Reix, fell in the opening round of qualifying.

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Getting to Know You: The 2013 US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles Championship

Andrew Ball
Age: 18    
Hometown: Palo Alto, CA    
Career-High Rank: N/A

Ball is the Northern California men’s champion and has also been a standout high school tennis player in California the past few years. He has committed to play tennis at Harvard University in the fall. In 2011, he was the recipient of the Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award, an honor only four junior tennis players in the nation receive each year.

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Charles Boyce
Age: 19    
Hometown: Cedar Hill, TX
Career-High Rank: 1,522 (July 2012)

Boyce comes to the US Open National Playoff Men’s Championship as the Texas winner despite only playing tennis for the past six years. He is a top-ranked junior in the USTA Texas Section and will play tennis in college at the University of California-Irvine. He trains at the Dent Tennis Academy, where he has received coaching from former pros Taylor and Phil Dent.

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Patrick Daciek
Age: 23    
Hometown: Severna Park, MD    
Career-High Rank: 979 (April 2013)

Daciek is no stranger to the US Open National Playoffs, but in 2013 he will be making his first trip to the Men’s Championship. Back in 2011, he partnered with Skylar Morton to win the Mid-Atlantic mixed doubles title and he has been a regular competitor, breaking through this year to win his first National Playoffs men’s singles title. Daciek was a successful collegiate player at Virginia Tech and, as a junior, won the 2008 National Collegiate Clay Court Championships.

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Jeffrey Dadamo
Age: 24    
Hometown: Tampa, FL    
Career-High Rank: 480 (October 2012)

A former NCAA champion and top collegiate player, Dadamo has moved his game to the pro level and been ranked as high as No. 480 in the world. He was the 2011 NCAA men’s doubles champion at Texas A&M University with Austin Krajicek before turning professional. As a pro, he holds two USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles – one in 2011 with Krajicek and one in 2012 with Devin Britton. The Florida sectional qualifying champion, Dadamo was the No. 1 seed and defeated former world No. 163 Jesse Witten in the final.

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Damon Gooch (RSA)
Age: 27
Hometown: Bethesda, MD    
Career-High Rank: 1,162 (October 2011)

Gooch is making his return to the US Open National Playoffs Men’s Championship this year as the Eastern men’s singles champion; he competed in the Men’s Championship in 2011 as the Mid-Atlantic winner. A standout collegiate player at Elon University, Gooch has been a frequent competitor on the ITF Circuit and USTA Pro Circuit in recent years, winning a doubles event in Venezuela in 2010. He was a top-ranked junior in South Africa and competed for the South African junior team before coming to the U.S. for college.

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Tony Larson
Age: 29    
Hometown: Blaine, MN    
Career-High Rank: N/A

The oldest competitor at the US Open National Playoffs Men’s Championship at 29, Larson also comes in with the most experience. This is Larson’s third trip to the Men’s Championship as the Northern champion, having also won the section’s sectional qualifier in 2010 and 2011. Larson is a teaching pro in Minneapolis and was the Minnesota state singles champion in high school before starring at Division II St. Cloud State University, where he posted a 48-3 record at No. 1 singles.

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Mackenzie McDonald
Age: 18
Hometown: Piedmont, CA
Career-High Rank: N/A 

One of the top American juniors of the past few years, McDonald made a move in the pro ranks this summer, upsetting two Top 100 players to qualify for the main draw at the Emirates Airline US Open Series in Cincinnati. McDonald peaked at No. 12 in the world junior rankings in 2012, winning the Easter Bowl singles and the International Spring Championships doubles. He advanced to the Men's Championship as the runner-up from the Southern California sectional qualifier.

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Nolan Paige
Age: 19    
Hometown: Fairfield, CT    
Career-High Rank: N/A

Paige is a veteran of the US Open National Playoffs and comes to the Men’s Championship as the New England champion for the third time in the past four years. He competes for Stanford University and was named the ITA Northwest Region Rookie of the Year this past season. As a junior player, he climbed as high as No. 5 in the USTA national junior rankings in 2010 and lost just one singles match in his high school career.

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Nick Papac
Age: 21    
Hometown: Norman, OK    
Career-High Rank: 1,471 (July 2011)

Papac is the Missouri Valley men’s champion and is currently a successful collegiate player at the University of Oklahoma; he was part of Oklahoma’s Big 12 championship team this year. This was Papac’s first season competing at Oklahoma after transferring from Fresno State and redshirting during the 2011-12 season.

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Matija Pecotic (MLT)
Age: 24    
Hometown: Bogota, NJ    
Career-High Rank: N/A

Pecotic was a standout tennis player at Princeton University, graduating this past year as one of the most decorated student-athletes in Ivy League tennis history. He became the first three-time Ivy League Player of the Year in tennis history and now enters the Men’s Championship as the Middle States champion. The Malta native will also be competing in the US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship with former Princeton teammate Lindsay Graff.

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Elliot Orkin
Age: 18    
Hometown: Marietta, GA    
Career-High Rank: N/A

One of the teenagers competing in the US Open National Playoffs Men’s Championship, Orkin comes in as the USTA Southern champion, having defeated fellow 18-year-old Trevor Gotkowski, 6-1, 6-0, in the final. Orkin has signed a letter of intent to play tennis at the University of Florida this fall and also competed in the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships this summer.

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Robert Seby
Age: 16    
Hometown: Oro Valley, AZ        
Career-High Rank: N/A

Seby, one of the youngest players in this year’s competition, advanced by knocking off 2010-11 Men’s Championship participant Angelo Niculescu in three sets in the Southwest sectional qualifier semifinals before toppling fellow teenager Mitchell Maroscher in the final. A former Jr. Team Tennis participant, Seby has been among the Southwest’s top-ranked junior players in every age division, from the 12s to the 18s, and has won two gold balls in national junior competition.


* Players are American unless otherwise noted​
 

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