San Diego, Calif. – (June 3, 2016) – It wasn’t easy, but the top seeds at the USTA National Open Hard Court Championships scored straight-set victories over tough opponents to advance to Saturday’s singles semifinals at the historic Balboa Tennis Club.
Emmanuel Mensah of Imperial Beach, Calif., the men’s No. 1 seed and defending champion, got past ninth-seeded David Goulak of Oak Park, Calif., 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, while Jessica Failla, the women’s top-seed from Ramona, Calif., fought off a second-set set comeback against fifth-seeded Maya Smith of Houston and went on to win 6-1, 7-5.
The 27-year-old Mensah, a native of Ghana where he played Davis Cup, will play Tim Sah of San Diego in a semifinal match scheduled for 10:30 a.m. (PDT). Sah, the fourth-seed, eliminated sixth-seeded Brian Battistone of Las Vegas, in a thrilling quarterfinal match, 6-4, 7-5.
In the women’s quarterfinals, Failla won the first set handily and looked to be in command in the second set, but the momentum shifted. “I was up a set and 4-1 and then she (Smith) really changed her game. She had a big serve and started coming to net. It was tough for me,” Failla said. “I just tried to fight through it. I knew she was going to be really tough. I just stuck to my game plan and stayed focused out there.”
Failla, who plays collegiate tennis for the University of Southern California, will take on fifth-seed Michalle Okhremchuk of San Diego in the semifinals at 9 a.m. (PDT). Okhremchuk ousted fourth-seeded Kristina Smith of Laguna Niguel, Calif., 6-3, 7-6 (4) in another quarterfinal match.
The 18-year-old Failla grew up playing at the Balboa Tennis Club and is enjoying competing at this week’s national tennis tournament close to home. “I played here ever since I was young. I love the courts, they’re pretty quick,” she said. “I love being here in my hometown and not having to deal with hotels and flights.”
In other men’s quarterfinal action, second-seeded Nicholas Kamisar of Sammamish, Wash., defeated fifth-seeded Saxon Buehning (5), Essex Fells, N.J., 6-3, 6-4. Kamisar will face eighth-seeded Stefan Menichella of Santa Barbara, Calif., in the semifinals at 10:30 a.m. (PDT).
Matches will begin at 9 a.m. (PDT) on Saturday, June 4. The men’s and women’s singles finals are slated for noon on Sunday, June 5. Admission for spectators is free and open to the public. On-site parking is free.
The winners of each division of the USTA National Open Hard Court Championships will be awarded a USTA gold ball, while the runner-up will be awarded a USTA silver ball. There will also be a 3rd/4th place playoff for the USTA bronze ball. Prize money will be distributed to both finalists as well as third and fourth place finishers in each division.
The men’s singles champion will receive a wild card into the qualifying draw for this year’s USTA Men’s $10K Pro Futures tournament in Laguna Niguel, Calif., while the women’s singles champion will earn a qualifying wild card for next year’s $25,000 Morgan Run Women’s Open at Morgan Run Club & Resort in Rancho Santa Fe.
The USTA National Open Hard Court Championships, which was voted, “2011 Tournament of the Year” by the San Diego District Tennis Association, has had several distinguished participants in past events. American men’s tennis star Jack Sock, who is currently No. 25 in the ATP World Tour singles rankings (as of 5/16/16), won the tournament singles title in 2010. Coco Vandeweghe, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year, earned a USTA bronze ball at the 2007 Hard Court Championships. Former WTA touring professionals Gretchen Rush and Ros Nideffer won the Women’s Open Doubles title seven times and Alison Bradshaw won the singles title in 2007.
The 2016 USTA National Open Hard Court Championships are sponsored by Wilson, San Diego District Tennis Association, United States Tennis Association, Graphic Interfaces, Kashi, LGBT Chiropractic, Minuteman Press of Mission Valley, CH Court Tech, Echo Sports & Third World Sports, Inc., Bauer Insurance, the San Diego Aviators, and Martinis Above Fourth | Table + Stage.
About The Balboa Tennis Club
In addition to the USTA National Open Hard Court Championships, the Balboa Tennis Club is the site for many prestigious tournaments throughout the year, such as the Maureen Connolly Balboa Open, the San Diego District Championships, and the San Diego Metropolitan Tournament. The club, which is also the home of the San Diego Tennis Hall of Fame, boasts over 1,400 members, and is visited by approximately 6,000 day pass visitors each year. As a nonprofit organization, Balboa Tennis Club is dedicated to offering the finest facilities at an affordable price to help foster and develop the great game of tennis in San Diego.
The history of the Balboa Tennis Club dates back to 1922 when a small group of tennis enthusiasts raised $5,000 among themselves, and with the cooperation from the City Recreation Department, constructed six tennis courts adjacent to the present War Memorial Building.
On April 24, 1924, the San Diego Tennis Association received a lease to operate the courts for the public. The following year, a small clubhouse with locker rooms was built, but it was not until June 1939 that Articles of Incorporation were drawn up, and the Balboa Tennis Club actually was formed as a public, nonprofit corporation to foster and develop the game of tennis in San Diego and to encourage competitive play with other clubs of this and other communities.
The club flourished many years at its original location and aided many young players in developing their games. In June 1966, the club moved to its present location and in July 1983, assumed all the operational responsibilities of the Morley Field Tennis Complex. In 1989 Balboa Tennis Club was rated as America’s Best Public Tennis Facility by the USTA. In 2000, the San Diego District Tennis Association named BTC as Club of the Year. In 2003, it received the Outstanding Tennis Facility award from the USTA for large facilities in the United States.
USTA National Open Hard Court Championships Balboa Tennis Club San Diego, Calif. Friday’s ResultsMen’s Singles Quarterfinals
Emmanuel Mensah (1), Imperial Beach, def. David Goulak (9), Oak Park, Calif., 6-4, 6-4
Nicholas Kamisar (2), Sammamish, Wash., def. Saxon Buehning (5), Essex Fells, N.J., 6-3, 6-4
Timothy Sah (4), San Diego, def. Brian Battistone (6), Las Vegas, 6-4, 7-5
Stefan Menichella (8), Santa Barbara, Calif., def. Xavier Smith (9), Chula Vista, 7-5, 3-0, ret. (injury)
Women’s Singles Quarterfinals
Jessica Failla (1), Ramona, def. Maya Smith (5), Houston, 6-1, 7-5
Salma Ewing (2), Long Beach, Calif., def. Hiromi Sasano (5), La Mesa, 7-6 (3), 6-2
Parris Todd (5), Newport Beach, Calif., def. Kaitlyn Christian (3), Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 6-4, 6-0
Michalle Okhremchuk (5), San Diego, def. Kristina Smith (4), Laguna Niguel, Calif., 6-3, 7-6 (4)