Skier Bode Miller to Try Hand at Tennis
The USTA announced on Tuesday that they will create a playoff system that will open up two spots in the U.S. Open -- one on each men's and women's side -- for the winners of a series of qualifying tournaments held from April until August. Any USTA member 14-years and older who can pay the $125 entry fee has a chance to play their way into Flushing Meadows.
"The US Open National Playoffs makes the US Open 'open,' where one woman and one man will earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament and a chance to advance to the main draw," said Lucy Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA.
There will be pre-qualifying tournaments played from April-June in 16 of the 17 USTA sections (excluding the Caribbean) with the winners advancing to play in the U.S. Open Series for a chance to play in the main draw.
The USTA hopes to increase buzz and awareness in the months leading up to the Open, and believes the playoff style tournament giving amateurs a shot at the main draw will do just that.
"While professionals are eligible to play, we expect the draws to be filled with top junior players, collegians, teaching professionals and even recreational players who will now have a chance to play themselves into the U.S. Open for the first time," said U.S. Open tournament director Jim Curley.
One of those players will be Miller, a former Maine high school singles champion and tennis instructor at the Tamarack Tennis Camp, founded by his mother's family in Easton, N.H.
"Tennis has always been a part of my life," Miller said in a statement released by the USTA. "The U.S. Open National Playoffs is a great concept and I look forward to playing in one of the sectional qualifying tournaments this spring. It will give me an outlet to focus my competitiveness after the Olympics and World Cup season."
He'll need more than focus to make it through the qualifiers and into the Open. While his speed on the slopes is undoubted, one wonders how that will transfer to the tennis courts.