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May 28 • 05:05
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2012 US Open National Playoffs Update

May 25, 2012

The following is the first of periodic updates on the 2012 US Open National Playoffs recapping the Sectional Qualifying Tournaments that have concluded. The updates will include a list of the men, women, and mixed doubles team who advanced to the US Open National Playoffs – Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles Championships.

Last week's recap:

The first sectional qualifying tournament of the 2012 US Open National Playoffs was completed this week as the USTA Southwest qualifier wrapped up in Scottsdale, Ariz. A recap video from the event can be found here and includes interviews with the winners. Follow for additional recap videos each week.

In the men's singles final of the USTA Southwest tournament, 32-year-old Brian Battistone of Las Vegas defeated Patrick Kawka, also of Las Vegas, 6-3, 6-4. Battistone was familiar with Kawka after training at the same academy as the 19-year-old and even coaching Kawka earlier in his career. Battistone uses a wishbone-shaped, double-handled racquet that allows him to hit forehands off both wings. He also employs a volleyball-style jump serve that has been clocked at 139 mph. Battistone turned pro in his late 20s, in 2007, after serving a two-year Mormon mission in Brazil, competing in doubles on the USTA Pro Circuit with brother Dann. The two teamed to win three USTA Pro Circuit titles, giving Brian a total of five USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles for his career. Battistone also played doubles at the 2010 US Open with Ryler DeHeart, attracting attention from several pros, including Rafael Nadal, for his unusual style of play. Battistone even told Nadal that he would be a natural for the unique racquet, since he was originally a right-hander before taking up tennis as a lefty—Nadal laughed.

In the women's singles final in Arizona, local favorite Stephanie Vlad, 18, of Scottsdale, defeated world No. 432 Nicole Melichar, 18, of Stuart, Fla., 6-2, 6-2, in a two-hour match. Vlad and Melichar have played each other numerous times since age 14 and Vlad had never prevailed in any of their meetings. Vlad will attend Arizona State University in the fall and play for the school's tennis team. Melichar, however, will still get the chance to compete in the US Open National Playoffs Championships after teaming with Battistone to win the mixed doubles title. The duo defeated 15-year-old Haily Morgan of Anthem, Ariz., and 18-year-old Zachary Northey of Lincoln, Neb., 6-3, 6-2.

Other players who competed in the USTA Southwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament included: Harold Fleeger, 53, a pastor for U-Turn For Christ, a drug/alcohol reformation program in Payson, Ariz.; Edward Benavidez, 49, an Albuquerque lawyer; former real estate agent Bort Jones, 49, who now is the owner of Focus on Recovery, an intensive outpatient facility that focuses on drug and alcohol addiction and eating disorders; 18-year-old Tiffany Tavares, who will play for the University of Tennessee in the fall and who was the top-ranked recruit in Nevada this year; and Hawaii's Tamitha Nguyen, 17, the daughter of Edna Olivarez, a former tennis champion in the Philippines.

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 2012 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.

Next events:

The next US Open National Playoffs Sectional Qualifying Tournament will be hosted by USTA Florida in Clearwater, Fla., May 26-30.

Registration closes on June 1 for the USTA Eastern Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Flushing, N.Y., June 11-17, at the home of the US Open. Registration also closes on June 1 for the USTA Southern California Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Claremont, Calif., June 11-15.


Section - USTA Southwest

Men's Winner

Brian Battistone

Age: 32; Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Women's Winner

Stephanie Vlad

Age: 18; Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Mixed Doubles Winners

Brian Battistone/Nicole Melichar

Ages: 32/18; Hometowns: Las Vegas, NV/Stuart, FL

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