The West Michigan Qualifier is the first round of the USTA National Championships. Anyone who is a member of the USTA can (and probably should) enter into the event. West Michigan is our district, and this year the top 7 players in each age group will qualify for the Midwest Closed. From there, the players who do well at the Midwest closed will qualify for the USTA National Championships, which is actually held in Kalamazoo each year. The winner of the Boys 18's Nationals in Kalamazoo earns a spot into the US Open in the Fall (although if that happens to any of our boys, they will have to pass, because the US Open conflicts with our tryouts).
Who do we have at the Qualifier this Weekend?
This year, Mark VanderStoep, Nick Valentine, and Nick Schnobel are playing in the Boys 16's division. Not only that, but all three of them won their first match and have advanced in the draw. Nick Valentine beat a player from Rockford, which we always like to see. Mark VanderStoep had to play a seed player in the first round, but beat him anyway (I won't call it an upset though, because I believe Mark truly was the stronger player). Nick is one of the seeds in the tournament. He won handily in the first round, and like Valentine and Stoep, he is pushing through the draw one round at a time. Mr. VanderStoep correctly noticed that we are the only boys tennis team to have 3 players win their first match at the Qualifier.
Why play the event, other than to qualify for the Midwest Closed?
1. USTA points. This is a level 4 tournament. If you win a match at the qualifier, even one match, it's worth about as many points as winning a whole level 6 tournament. You want points because it improves your ranking. Impvoring your ranking lets you get seeded in tournaments, which makes it easier to win smaller tournaments, getting you even more points. This lets you enter into more prestigious tournaments, because you have the points to enter. And this makes your ranking go up even higher, which makes college coaches look at you. Basically, the Qualifier can be the start of a ripple effect, provided you have the game to back it up.
2. Experience/Motivation. Every good player in West Michigan will be there....ALL OF THEM. This is your chance to see them all in one place and see how good you really are. Heck, if you don't feel comfortable to sign up and play, drive down and watch. Spend the weekend seeing what the next level of competition looks like. If you aren't motivated to work harder after watching Davis Crocker and Paul Oosterbaan play, tennis probably isn't for you! I would recommend watching this tournament over getting a private lesson in terms of value, and it costs very little to drive down there.