- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Though the U.S. Open begins Aug. 29 in New York, local tennis fans can witness a preview of coming attractions beginning Thursday in College Park. Eight American men and eight women will convene in a three-day tournament at the Junior Tennis Champions Center to fight for one spot apiece in the men’s and women’s main draws.

The U.S. Tennis Association recently awarded seven wild cards into the men’s main draw: 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt, Donald Young, Robby Ginepri, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson, Jack Sock and Julien Benneteau. Young, 22, who rose to a No. 89 world ranking after a semifinal appearance at the Legg Mason Classic, was slated to be the No. 1 seed in this week’s tournament but was added to the wild card list Tuesday night.

Washington Kastles star Bobby Reynolds will step in as the wild card playoff’s new No. 1 seed. Reynolds will meet 2010 NCAA singles title-winner Bradley Klahn in a 7 p.m. match Thursday.

Arlington’s Denis Kudla, Annandale’s Mitchell Frank and Ellicott City’s Trice Capra round out the tournament’s collection of local standouts. No. 2 seed Kudla, who turned 19 Wednesday, looks to build off a productive summer that has included a quarterfinal appearance in the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I., and a first-round loss in the Legg Mason. With 10 years of experience at these College Park courts under his belt, the 2010 U.S. Open boys singles finalist hopes the comfort of playing at home will make him New York-bound at week’s end.

“It would definitely be huge,” Kudla said. “To be able to play against the top guys would be great and to give yourself an opportunity to try to win a Grand Slam, it’s amazing.”

The sixth-seeded Frank — a 2011 USTA boys’ 18s national championships finalist bound for the University of Virginia in the fall — will face No. 3 seed Daniel Kosakowski in a 7 p.m. match Thursday. No. 5 seed Capra, who won the wild card playoff last year, will take on No. 4 seed Ahsha Rolle in a 5 p.m. contest on the women’s side.

The women’s field also includes Julia Cohen, Ashley Weinhold, Gail Brodsky, Nicole Gibbs, Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys.