Call Of the Wild
While the world's top 100 or so players automatically receive a slot in the main draw of U.S. Open, anyone armed with a racket (and the $125 entry fee) could try to earn one of the other 28 berths. The USTA ran a four-month National Playoff Championship in which the winner would get a wild-card entry in the Open qualifying tournament. The event drew more than 1,000 hopefuls, including a New York rabbi, former ATP bad boy Jeff Tarango and Olympic skier Bode Miller. After winning nine rounds, the men's champion was Blake Strode
(below), 23, a former All-America at Arkansas who deferred Harvard Law School to try to engineer a pro career. The women's winner: Alexandra Mueller, 22, of Abington, Pa., once a formidable junior.