| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

The USTA has announced the 14 teams that will compete in the first-ever U.S. Open National Playoffs–Mixed-Doubles Championship, Aug. 24-27, at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Conn. The tournament is being held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, the final Olympus U.S. Open Series women’s event of the summer. The winning team will receive a wild card into the main draw of the 2011 U.S. Open Mixed-Doubles Tournament, starting Wednesday, Aug. 31, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Representing the USTA Eastern Region will be 30-year-old Bea Bielik from Valley Stream, N.Y. and her teammate, 27-year-old Darrin Cohen from Smithtown, N.Y.

Mixed-doubles was added to the U.S. Open National Playoffs this year, following the debut of men’s and women’s singles last year. This year, 192 teams competed in mixed doubles at one of 16 Sectional Qualifying Tournaments, and 14 teams have advanced to New Haven (two teams have withdrawn). The U.S. Open National Playoffs function as a series of tournaments held throughout the United States to make the U.S. Open eligible to anyone and everyone 14 and over with the passion to compete, regardless of playing ability or nationality.

“We have been looking forward to crowning our first U.S. Open National Playoffs mixed-doubles champions after a summer of competitive doubles play,” says Jeff Ryan, tournament director, U.S. Open National Playoffs. “There is a strong and diverse field in New Haven and we are eager to watch two of these players compete in a main draw match in New York.”

The competitors in the Mixed-Doubles Championships include former collegians, one player who has reached the final of a Grand Slam doubles event, five players who have been ranked in the Top 100 in doubles, four teenagers, and six players who are over 30 years old.

The U.S. Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship field includes:

►USTA Eastern: Bea Bielik, 30, Valley Stream, NY & Darrin Cohen, 27, Smithtown, NY

►USTA Florida: Amanda Rodgers, 18, Bradenton, FL & Ellis Ferreira, 41, Holmes Beach, FL

►USTA Hawaii-Pacific: Maureen Diaz, 29, Glendale, CA & Erik Nelson-Kortland, 32, Marina del Rey, CA

►USTA Intermountain: Yana Ruegsegger, 34, Lakewood, CO & Miika Keronen, 40, Longmont, CO

►USTA Mid-Atlantic: Skylar Morton, 17, Bethesda, MD & Patrick Daciek, 21, Severna Park, MD

►USTA Middle States: Jill Saunders, 20, Kempton, PA & Kristopher Shumway, 30, Royersford, PA

►USTA Midwest: Michaela Kissell, 23, Huntington, WV & Jacob Eddins, 25, Huntington, WV

►USTA Missouri Valley: Brook Connelly, 25, Yukon, OK; Dave Mullins, 32, Norman, OK

►USTA New England: Whitney Jones, 25, St. Louis, MO & Blake Strode, 24, St. Louis

►USTA Northern: Imke Reimers, 25, Minneapolis, MN & Erik Donley, 37, Duluth, MN

►USTA Northern California: Yasmin Schnack, 23, Elk Grove, CA & Eric Roberson, 25, Sacramento, CA

►USTA Pacific Northwest: Marie-Eve Pelletier, 29, Quebec, Canada & Aleksander Vlaski, 29, Belgrade, Serbia

►USTA Southern: Christina Fusano, 30, Plymouth, CA & David Martin, 30, Tulsa, OK

►USTA Texas: Samantha Adams, 19, New Braunfels, TX & Harrison Adams, 17, New Braunfels, TX

Among the contenders are Ellis Ferreira, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion; former NCAA singles champion Bea Bielik, who reached the third round of the U.S. Open in singles 11 years ago; and Blake Strode, who deferred Harvard Law School to pursue a career in professional tennis and successfully defended his U.S. Open National Playoffs–Men’s Championship title last week in New Haven.

The top seeded team is comprised of David Martin & Christina Fusano, who have combined to win 31 USTA Pro Circuit doubles crowns (20 for Martin, 11 for Fusano). Other notable pairings are the brother-sister team of Samantha & Harrison Adams, who advanced out of Texas, and a pair of coaches from the University of Oklahoma, Dave Mullins & Brook Connelly, who won the Missouri Valley title.

A number of the players competing in the Mixed-Doubles Championship also played in the U.S. Open National Playoffs–Men’s and Women’s Championships. Martin & Strode both competed in the Men’s Championship. Maureen Diaz, Skylar Morton, Yasmin Schnack and Canadian Fed Cup player Marie-Eve Pelletier, who was the top seed in the Women’s Championship, all competed in the Women’s Championship.

The U.S. Open National Playoffs–Men’s and Women’s Championship took place Aug. 18-21, in New Haven, Conn., with the winning singles players earning a wild card into the 2011 U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament, which begins today at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

In the U.S. Open National Playoffs–Men’s Championship, top seed Strode successfully defended his title this year. Strode is a former University of Arkansas All-American, who has deferred Harvard Law School for another year to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis. He is currently ranked 447th in the ATP Rankings and will plays in the first round of the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament. Eighteen-year-old Robin Anderson, a girls singles quarterfinalist at the 2010 U.S. Open, won the women’s title. She will be attending UCLA this fall and plays in qualifying tomorrow.