| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

Longines, the official timekeeper and partner of the French Open, has announced the United States’ participants for the 2012 Longines Future Tennis Aces—On the Road to the French Open U.S. qualifying tournament. The USTA-sanctioned event will feature the best junior tennis athletes from the USTA’s Eastern, Middle States, New England and Northern Californian sections, as well as members from the Harlem Junior Tennis League. Seven of the sixteen competitors are from New York state alone.

Stefanie Graf, the winner of 22-time Grand Slam singles titles and Longines Ambassador of Elegance, assisted in the selection of all participants. Athletes competing in the U.S. tournament were selected on two criteria: athletic performance and commitment to give back to the community. Each registered athlete submitted a 300-word essay on philanthropy that was voted on by a panel of judges which included former world number one-ranked Graf.

Among the locals selected for the event include:

►Rachel Lim of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

►Chelsea Williams of Brooklyn, N.Y.

►Michelle Sorokko of Douglaston, N.Y.

►Sarah Rahman of East Elmhurst, N.Y.

►Zora Hall of Harlem, N.Y.

►Cameron Dunbar of Harlem, N.Y.

The winner of the U.S. qualifier will earn a trip to Paris, France to compete for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play on the famed red-clay courts of Roland Garros during the French Open.

The U.S. Participants for the Longines Future Tennis Aces include:

►Maria Mateas of Braintree, Mass.
►Alexis Almy of Southborough, Mass.
►Peri Sheinin of East Greenwich, R.I.
►Amanda Nord of Pittsburgh, Pa.
►Ann Li of Devon, Pa.
►Tess Fisher of Vineland, NJ
►Marcella L. Cruz of Marlboro, N.J.
►Scarlett Fallon Blydenburgh of Chatham, N.J. 
►Elena Van Linge of Menlo Park, Calif.

Longines Future Tennis Aces is a global tennis program consisting of national tournaments held in 16 countries for girls between the ages of 10-12 years old. Winners from each nation will receive an all-expense paid trip to Paris to compete in the worldwide championship event on June 7-9 at Roland Garros. The two world finalists will then have the exclusive right to play against tennis legend and six-time French Open Champion Graf on June 9, just prior to the French Open women’s final.

Providing coaching and encouragement to all of the participants in the U.S. tournament will be former French Open doubles champion and current coach of Syracuse women’s tennis team Luke Jensen.

Additional countries hosting Longines Future Tennis Aces qualifying tournaments include: Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italia, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.