For the fourth straight year, Sarah Candeloro and Kevin Papen, teammates from Dover, Del., are entering the mixed doubles draw at the US Open National Playoffs Middle States Qualifying Tournament. Over the last three years they’ve lost in the first round, the second round and, in 2015, the finals.
“Now that we have a Finalist result under our belts, we’re hoping it gives us the confidence to do one better this year,” Papen said.
The US Open National Playoffs gives everyone older than 14 the chance to play their way to the biggest stage in tennis, the US Open. Any USTA member, regardless of ability level, can compete.
“It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of,” Candeloro said. “To know that you don’t need to travel across the world to get a ranking in an attempt to compete at the professional level in the US Open is a dream.”
The team that beat Candeloro and Papen in the finals last year, Anda Perianu and Andrei Daescu, realized that dream play in the mixed doubles main draw at the US Open, where they lost in the first round.
“The fact that the players we lost to in the finals went all the way to the US Open makes the possibility seem attainable for anyone, if you train hard enough,” Candeloro added.
“Our goal is really to just play well and have fun,” Papen said. “My favorite part of the this tournament is that I get to play high level tennis with one of my best friends. There aren’t a ton of opportunities to play such great mixed teams in a setting that actually counts, so it’s really fun to be able to do that with a good friend.
“When we’re laughing on court, we’re at our best. So hopefully we can do that and the result will be there.”
To learn more about the US Open National Playoffs and to register, click here.