NEW YORK – Rising sophomore Michael Zheng has earned a spot in the US Open men’s singles qualifying draw and will compete for one of 16 spots in the tournament’s main draw starting next week on Tuesday, August 22 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing.
In the first round of qualifying, Zheng will meet Franco Agamenone from Italy. Zheng’s match will be the fourth one played on court seven. The first matches of the day start at 11 a.m Tuesday.
Zheng will play in the US Open qualifiers before returning to campus to begin the fall tennis season with the Lions. Zheng played in multiple tournaments over the summer, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Caribbean Open ATP Challenger in Puerto Rico where he was defeated by former ATP world No. 4 Kei Nishikori.
Zheng is coming off a stellar rookie season at Columbia as he posted a 32-9 overall singles record, including a 16-5 mark in dual singles action. Zheng became the first player in program and Ivy League history to be named Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and First Team All-Ivy in singles and doubles in the same season. In addition, Zheng made a run to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Singles Championships to earn ITA All-American honors. He was named the ITA Northeast Region Rookie of the Year and achieved a season-high ranking of No. 8 in the ITA singles rankings.
The US Open Qualifying Tournament will begin on Tuesday, August 22 and extend to Friday, August 25. The men’s singles field consists of 128 other individuals competing for the final 16 entries in the 2023 US Open singles draws.
Zheng joins an elite group of Columbia singles tennis players to compete in the US Open. The last Lion to play in the singles qualifying draw or main draw was Phil Williamson ’87CC. Williamson saw action in the main draw of the tournament in 1987, 1991 and 1993. He most recently competed in 1997 as he lost in the qualifying draw. Max Schnur ’15CC is the last Lion to compete in the doubles main draw at the US Open in 2022.
Eight other former Lions have played in the qualifying or main draw at the US Open in singles. Evan Ratner ’85CC, Matthew Litsky ’87CC and current Bidyut K. Goswami Head Coach of Men’s Tennis Howard Endelman ’87CC have each participated in the singles qualifying draw.
Eric Fromm ’80CC earned a spot in the main draw of the US Open in four different years – 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1983. Vitas Gerulaitis was with the Lions for a stint and lost in the 1979 US Open finals to John McEnroe. Rick Fagel ’75CC earned a spot in the main draw without qualifying in 1975 and every year from 1977-82. Henry Bunis ’75CC qualified for the main draw in 1974 before losing the first round match to Butch Seewagen who was the Columbia tennis coach at the time. Bunis lost in the qualifying draw in 1975 before qualifying for the main draw in 1976 and 1977. He won his first round matches in the main draw both years.
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