US Open National Playoff Southwest Section Qualifying Tournament
Scottsdale Ranch Park - Scottsdale, Ariz.
May 17-19, 2014
Jacqueline Cako and Chris Wettengel took widely different routes to their 2014 US Open National Playoffs Southwest Section Qualifying Tournament titles. The result, however, ended up the same, with both top seeds standing tall at the end of the weekend with trophies in hand.
In the men’s division, No. 1 seed Wettengel (pictured - right) , 32, of Bentonville, Ark., needed comebacks in three consecutive matches just to reach the finals. In the Round of 16, Wettengel found himself in a tussle with USTA Southwest's top 18 & Under junior Augustus Ge (Phoenix, Ariz.). Just a couple of points from victory in the second set, Wettengel dropped the second set and had to endure a tight third set to emerge with a 6-3. 6-7, 6-4 win.
In the quarterfinals, Wettengel breezed through the opening set against Brett Morse-Karzen (Wilmette, Ill.) 6-1, but quickly fell behind 4-0 in the second set to the hard-serving Midwesterner. Wettengel quickly got his game together, and took seven of the last eight games to prevail 6-1, 7-5.
In the semifinals, Wettengel again found himself in the throes of a tough contest, losing a tiebreaker first set to former top Southwest junior Jason Jaruvang. Wettengel rebounded quickly to take the second set 6-3. The third set stayed on serve until 4-4, when Wettengel broke Jaruvang to go ahead. Serving for the match at 5-4, Wettengel was quickly broken for 5-5, but he broke back for a 6-5 lead, only to be broken again to force a deciding-set tiebreaker. Wettengel put the pedal to the medal in the breaker, and won 7-4 in a physical and mentally draining three-hour semifinal.
With the tough matches behind him, Wettengel found a groove in the final and rolled, defeating former UNLV standout and No. 2 seed Joel Kielbowicz, 31, of Scottsdale, 6-1, 6-0. Wettengel reeled off the last nine games to capture the title in lopsided fashion, his fourth US Open National Playoff Section crown in four tries, and three different locations.
Wettengel won the USTA Northern California title in both 2010 and 2011, and the USTA Midwest title in 2012. Wettengel, a former college player at University of Minnesota whose highest ATP ranking was No. 548 in the world in 2007, did not play in any US Open National Playoff events last year.
"It's been a pretty great run so far," said Wettengel of his success in Section Playoffs. "I've not yet lost in one of these section qualifiers. My goal is of course to get the National title, so hopefully this will be the year."
Former Arizona State star Jacqueline Cako, 22, of Brier, Wash., didn't quite sweat it out the way Wettengel did en route to her championship. Cako lost a mere three games in three matches played, receiving a first round bye, won 6-3, 6-0 over El Paso junior Marjorie Antohi, dropped two double bagels on her quarterfinal and semifinal opponents, then received a walkover in the final from 16-year-old Savannah Slaysman, of Phoenix, who was ill on the morning of the final and could not play.
Cako, who finished up at Arizona State University in 2013, receiving All-America honors, has since thrived in doubles on the USTA Pro Circuit, winning six titles and peaking at No. 169 in the world in doubles last September. Last July, Cako and fellow American Natalie Pluskota reached the doubles quarterfinals at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Stanford, Calif.
"All in all it was not too tough of a week, I think I lost three games," claimed Cako afterward.
"I haven't really done anything like that since juniors. Honestly, I wasn't even sure I was going to play this event a few weeks ago, and just decided kind of late. It proved to be a great decision, though, and I'm looking forward to moving on."
Cako also teamed with Kielbowicz to claim the USTA Southwest mixed doubles title, defeating Carol Finke and Brett Morse-Karzen, 6-0, 7-6(3), to advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship in August.
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 2014 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.
Thanks again to Scottsdale Ranch Park Tennis Center for serving as our host venue. The facility has been home to the US Open National Playoff Southwest Section Qualifying Tournament, the last four years and all but one (2010 - Surprise Racquet & Tennis Complex) that we've held our event.
Also, a big thanks goes out to our tournament director, Sally Grabham and husband Bob, for their help as always with this event!