Ask any tennis player how hard it is to face a good friend on the other side of the the court and they will give you some variation of the same answer.
“It’s tough, you definitely get a little bit tighter on the court,” explained Norcross’ Allison Miller after a tough three-set win.
Miller defeated good friend and a tough competitor in Laura Patterson of Roswell 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Thursday at the USTA Southern Section U.S. Open National Playoffs at the Sandy Springs Tennis Center. With her win, Miller earned a trip to New Haven, Conn. to face 12 other players from around the country and to try and earn a spot in the qualifying draw of the 2013 U.S. Open in New York.
Miller, who is going to be a high school senior, has already committed to play tennis for Notre Dame, seemed as surprised as anyone with her victory.
“I actually never even though about it (until now),” admitted Miller. “I just thought I would cross that bridge when I came to it.”
Miller had breezed though her previous matches this week and she jumped out quickly on a tired Patterson. Patterson had played three long and tough matches coming into Thursday’s final match, and she appeared tired from the onset.
Patterson did find the range with a flat forehand in the second set as the unforced errors started piling up for Miller.
After a short break before the third set, Miller broke Patterson’s serve early and hung on.
“I have a lot of respect for Laura’s game,” added Miller. “I know she has a great serve and attacks well, so I had to play good defense to stay in it.”
The men’s semifinals, also contested on Thursday featured a couple close matches.
Eilloitt Orkin of Marietta, who has signed to play at Florida in the fall, won his semifinal match on Thursday against an experienced player in Danie ven den Heever of Cumming.
van den Heever is a serve and volley player, not the type of player Orkin usually plays against.
“I had to hit about 10 topspin lob winners in that match,” said a relieved Orkin. “There aren’t many junior players that serve and volley, but yesterday I played a player from Wofford and he served and volleyed.”
The other semifinal showcased another junior player in Trevor Gotkowski, who will be headed to Wofford this fall, and Nathan Rakitt, a Georgia Tech player.
After well over two hours Gotkowski took the match and he will now face a friend in Orkin in Friday’s finals.
ven den Heever didn’t leave the premises of the Sandy Springs Tennis center empty-handed, he and his partner took the mixed doubles crown and also advanced to New Haven by beating Rakitt and Georgia Tech women’s player Kendal Woodard.
The US Open National Playoffs are sectional qualifying tournaments, held this year in 13 USTA sections. The men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champions or top available finishers from each sectional qualifying tournament advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Championships. The Men’s and Women’s Singles Championships will be held August 16-19, and the Mixed Doubles Championship are slated for August 21-24. All three events take place in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event.
Allison Miller d. Laura Patterson 6-3; 2-6; 6-3
SF Elliott Orkin d. Danie van den Heever 4-6; 6-3; 6-4
SF Trevor Gotkowski d. Nathan Rakitt 4-6; 6-2; 6-3
McCray/van den Heever d. Rakitt/Woodard 7-6(4); 6-1