The US Open National Playoffs Midwest Sectional Tournament took place June 22-25 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio (outside of Cincinnati). Winners from each of the three events – Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles – are from the Midwest Section and will move on to the US Open National Playoffs to take place in August.
In its fourth year, the US Open National Playoffs is a series of tournaments designed to give any player 14 years of age or older the opportunity to qualify for the US Open. The winners from each of the country’s 13 sectional qualifiers advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles to be held August 16-19, and the Mixed Doubles Championship, held August 21-24.
A record number 99 players competed this year, representing all ages and skill levels; top ranked junior players, college players, senior players, recreational and USTA League players. All Midwest Section states were represented, with 38 players hailing from Ohio.
Semifinal and finals action paired some of the region’s top college-level players against each other, making for an exciting and competitive tournament for all three events. You can view complete results and learn more about some of the top players from the following links:
Ronnie Schneider, one of the nation’s best junior players (who will be playing for the University of North Carolina) defeated Ohio State University player Kevin Metka 6-1; 6-4.
"I set a goal for myself to get back to the US Open one way or another," said Schneider. "I’ve been to the US Open the past two years for juniors, but this year I wanted to go through this tournament or through Kalamazoo. This is one step closer to a big goal of mine."
Schneider said the tournament was great preparation for what’s to come. "Each day I had a tough match. I think it sets me up well for the rest of the summer."
"I had a really tough opponent today," said Metka, referring to Schneider. "He made a ton of balls and just outlasted me today."
Nelle Youel couldn’t have received a better birthday present; she defeated Maddie Kobelt 7-5; 6-3 in the women’s final. Youel plays No. 1 singles and doubles for Northern Illinois University and Kobelt, a New Albany, Ohio native plays for Syracuse University.
"I started off really shaky," said Youel. The first set was an exciting one, with Kobelt getting Youel down 5-4. "The match was tough. She was a really good player and really made me dig deep," she said.
On being one step closer to reaching the US Open, Youel is still trying to comprehend it. "It’s surreal to me. I never would have thought about it prior to coming here. I knew it would be a tough tournament and to be that much closer is just unbelievable."
Cincinnati-area players Sandy Niehaus (a standout at Mount Notre Dame) and tennis pro Wil Lofgren defeated Bartosz Jozwiak and Katarina Milinkovic, former DePaul University players , 6-2; 6-3.
"It was our best match of the tournament so far. We served well, didn’t get broken, which was probably the key for us," said Lofgren. "It only gets tougher from here. We are hoping to play some good matches to give ourselves a shot (at qualifying to the US Open)."
Niehaus was also very happy with their performance. "I thought Wil and I played really well today. I was very excited that we won the tournament and that we get to go to New Haven," she said.