By Mitch Kaskie
When Homestead Country Club hosts the U.S. Open National Playoffs sectional qualifying tournament this Thursday, it will attract 63 players from across the country, each with different ages, skill levels, and background stories. However the goal will be the same — a chance to qualify for the U.S. Open.
For Prairie Village native Ross Guignon, it will not only be a chance to qualify for his first grand slam, but also an opportunity to do it on the very courts where he learned the game when he was just five years old.
“I’m really excited,” Guignon said. “My family doesn’t get to watch me compete nearly as much as they did when I lived here in Kansas City. I think having my family and my old coach Eric Rand watch me compete is the thing I’m most excited for.”
Guignon played at Homestead for five years before switching to Overland Park Racquet Club to train with Rand. Rand, his academy, and Guignon left Overland Park Racquet Club when he was 15, and would eventually find a home with the Plaza Tennis Center for the rest of high school.
Guignon went on to win a national title in 2010 before signing to play Division I tennis for the University of Illinois. His freshman year the Illini won a Big 10 Championship, and this past year he was named an All-American in doubles.
For the past three weeks Guignon has been in Champaign training with his teammates and coaches (voluntarily per NCAA rules), and has played in a couple of tune-up tournaments leading up to this week. Guignon says he feels confident going into the qualifiers.
“I’ve got high hopes of winning it,” Guignon said. “There’s some great competition this year, but if I didn’t think I could take the title this weekend I would definitely be heading in with the wrong mindset.”
Thirteen states will be represented in this year’s sectional qualifying tournament, but only four of the 63 players will be moving on to the next step of qualifying for the U.S. Open, the National Playoffs. For mixed doubles, the national champions receive a main draw wild card straight into the U.S. Open. For men’s and women’s singles champions, they have one more qualifier, the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament, which is held the week prior to the U.S. Open.
Guignon began play today at 9:30 a.m. He will also compete in mixed doubles with fellow Shawnee Mission East graduate Olivia Sneed at 4 p.m.