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Inaugural US Open Qualifying Tournament comes to IMG Academy

IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program student Heather Watson at the 2009 US Open Junior Tournament
IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program student Heather Watson at the 2009 US Open Junior Tournament

IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program IN BRADENTON, FLA., TO HOST

US OPEN NATIONAL PLAYOFFS FLORIDA SECTIONAL QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT

US Open National Playoffs give all USTA members a chance to earn a spot in 2010 US Open

BRADENTON, Fla. (March 18, 2010) - For any tennis player who has imagined playing in the US Open, the tournament is truly "open" in 2010, with the introduction of the US Open National Playoffs.

Any USTA member age 14 and older can sign up for a shot at the ultimate prize - a chance to compete with the best tennis players in the world at the 2010 US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY. Participants can be of any playing level or nationality, but must have a current and valid USTA membership through Aug. 30, 2010. The world-famous IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program in Bradenton, Fla., will host the US Open National Playoffs Florida Sectional Qualifying Tournament from May 29-June 4, 2010.

The men's and women's draw winners from Florida will advance to face the 15 other USTA section champions, with the men's and women's national winners receiving a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament.

"I think we're going to see a diverse group participate in this first-ever event," said Tournament Director Rick Workman. "Collegiate players, Challenger and Futures-level tour players, international players, many of our top Florida juniors and even some coaches, just to name a few!"

Each sectional men's and women's event is limited to 256 players, and the sectional draws will not be seeded, giving everyone an equal opportunity to advance. The entry fee for the sectional qualifying tournament is $125, and entrants can only play in one sectional. USTA members can go to http://www.usopen.org/National_Playoffs/florida.aspx to register for the Florida sectional, which has a deadline of May 19, 2010.

With 56 tennis courts and a history of helping develop some of the world's top youth and professional players, the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy embodies successful tennis and opportunity.

"Nothing is impossible unless you choose not to try," said legendary coach Nick Bollettieri. "These tournaments could make someone's dream come true."

The concept of regional qualifying tournaments follows a successful format that the United States Golf Association has used for years to give more golfers a chance to participate in a major.

"It is a great opportunity for every player to make it to the US Open," says USTA Florida Competitive Tennis Coordinator Andy Gladstone. "It's now a true US Open. Everyone has a shot to play. I love how everyone from a Florida club champ to a teaching pro to an ace junior player to a star college player - virtually anyone - can earn a shot."

Pro golfer Matt Kuchar, a part-time resident of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and an avid tennis fan who competes in USTA national touranments, says the competition brings tennis' US Open closer to recreational players like it has with golf's US Open.

"I think the USTA is doing a great thing by having a true open competition," says Kuchar, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour who has earned a spot in the last three U.S. Open golf championships through open qualifying. "I have utilized open qualifying to play numerous U.S. Opens in golf, and I've seen amateurs advance alongside me. You never know, Sybi [his wife who played college tennis> and I might give it our best shot at qualifying in the near future."

The Atlanta Athletic Club will host the US Open National Playoffs -- Men's Championship on July 22-25 during the Atlanta Tennis Championships, the first tournament on the Olympus US Open Series. The Taube Family Tennis Stadium at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., will host the US Open National Playoffs - Women's Championships on July 29-Aug. 1 during the Bank of the West Classic, the first women's event on the Olympus US Open Series. The Florida Sectional tournament is providing travel expense assistance to the men's and women's winners to compete in the US Open National Playoffs - Men's and Women's Championships.

About IMG Academy

IMG Academy is the world's foremost training facility for athletic, academic and personal development. Over the span of 30-plus years, the Academy's advanced training methods have helped countless youth, adult, collegiate and professional athletes improve in sport and life by providing an energetic and inspiring atmosphere on a 350-acre campus. Consisting of the IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program, IMG Academy golf program, IMG Academy football program, Athletic & Personal Development program, and IMG Academy baseball program, IMG Academy basketball program, IMG Academy Lacrosse program and IMG Academy soccer program academies, the Bradenton, Fla.-based Academy attracts more than 12,000 dedicated athletes from approximately 80 countries every year. Through specialized training, expert coaching and customizable programs for all ages and ability levels, IMG Academy offers the ultimate preparation for life in and out of the athletic arena. Find more info at www.imgacademies.com.

About USTA Florida

Established in 1949, USTA Florida is a section of the United States Tennis Association. It is a not-for-profit volunteer organization with more than 50,000 members, 1,000 organizational members and a $3.8 million budget. As the official governing body of tennis in Florida, USTA Florida operates from an executive office in Daytona Beach with 27 staff members and more than 600 volunteers throughout the state working towards a mission to promote and develop tennis in Florida. To learn more about USTA Florida visit www.ustaflorida.com.

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