After four perfect days of tennis at Tennis Center at College Park (TCCP), the USTA/Mid-Atlantic Section crowned its three champions on Tuesday in the US Open National Playoffs Mid-Atlantic Sectional Qualifying tournament. They are now one step closer to playing in the US Open.
The men’s singles final featured a matchup of young collegiate coaches with Matt Brooklyn, the men’s and women’s tennis assistant coach at the University of Georgetown, defeating Pjotrs Necajevs, the women’s tennis head coach for the University of Detroit, 6-4 7-6(5). The 24-year-old Brooklyn had a tougher road to the final than Necajevs. Both Brooklyn’s quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Monday went to three sets. He was even down 0-6 1-4 in his quarterfinal match to defending champion Damon Gooch of Bethesda, Md., and seemingly on his way out of the tournament before he turned the match around and escaped defeat. Necajevs, on the other hand, did not drop a set in his five matches leading up to the final.
Brooklyn, born and raised in London, U.K., just finished his first year of coaching at Georgetown. Before his coaching career, he played at Arizona State for two years and then transferred to UCLA for the 2008-2009 season when the program at Arizona State was dropped. At UCLA, Brooklyn was ranked as high as No. 29 among singles players nationally.
"It would be a dream (to qualify for the US Open)," says Brooklyn. "As a kid I always wanted to play a grand slam, being so close to Wimbledon. To play at the US Open would be a dream come true."
After Brooklyn won the first set, Necajevs took an injury timeout to nurse his back. The break seemed to help as he was able to push the second set to a tiebreaker. He was leading 5-3 in the tiebreaker, two points from leveling the match at a set all, before Brooklyn won the last four points to close out the match.
The 25-year-old Necajevs from Latvia rebounded in time to win the mixed doubles title later in the afternoon with 14-year-old Sophia Abelson. The pair from Michigan defeated Greg Chambers and Lyndall Jordan from Maryland 6-2 6-1. Necajevs has served as Abelson’s coach for the past 9 months.
In the women’s final, the No. 1 seed from Russia, 25-year-old Nika Kukharchuk, overpowered her 16-year-old opponent, Monet Willis from Philadelphia, Pa., 6-0 6-0. After a tough match in the Round of 16, Kukharchuk stormed her way through the women’s draw, only dropping seven games in three matches. Kukharchuk is currently ranked 668 on the women’s professional tour and works as a teaching pro at Hardscrabble Club in Brewster, N.Y.
Brooklyn, Kukharchuk, Necajevs, and Abelson will play in the US Open National Playoffs Championships in their respective division in New Haven, Conn., at Yale University during the New Haven Open at Yale, a WTA event, part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series (August 17-20 for singles, August 22-25 for mixed doubles). The winner of each Singles Championship (1 male, 1 female) will receive a wild card entry to compete in the 2012 US Open Qualifying Tournament (August 21-24) and the winner of the Mixed Doubles Championship (1 team) will receive a wild card entry to compete in the 2012 US Open Mixed Doubles Championship (commencing August 29) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.