It’s down to the final round of the Eastern Sectional Qualifier for the U.S.Open National Playoffs. Players are competing for a chance to make the U.S. Open. Each of the USTA’s 17 Sections host a tournament with the winners moving on to play for a spot in the U.S.Open draw. What drew me to the USTA Eastern Men’s tournament is the players. Nikita Kryvonos – the first video below – was my #1 player on one of the very first zonal teams I coached. His big test in getting to today’s finals came against James Delevante of Deer Park. Nikita won 5-7, 7-5 when Delevante retired with an illness. He faces Columbia University’s Winston Lin who’s closest match so far was a 6-4, 6-2 over Mehdy Karbid of Mamaroneck, NY. I also had the pleasure of coaching Winston at zonals a few years after I had Nikita. It should be an exciting final. In the Women’s Qualifier it’s Rima Asatrian of Tenafly, NJ against Magda Okruashvili of Brooklyn. In the Mixed Doubles finals it’s another familiar name as Keith Kessler (had him at zonals too) teamed with Alison Adamski. They will meet Malika Rose and Steven Wilson. Whoever wins these events, it’s still a long road ahead. The next round doesn’t get any easier.