The former state champion from West Linn will compete in a mixed doubles qualifying tournament next month

by: JIM CLARK - Former state singles champion Steve Robertson is hoping to qualify for the US Open in mixed doubles next month.Steve Robertson is one tournament victory away from accomplishing something that many competitive tennis players only dream about.

The former West Linn High School state singles champion and his doubles partner, Kelcy McKenna, recently won a mixed doubles qualifying tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz., earning them a spot in the US Open national playoffs in New Haven, Conn. next month.

If Robertson and McKenna can win that competitive 13-team tournament, they will earn a wild card entry to the US Open, the final major of the tennis season and one of the most prestigious events in the world, in New York just one week later.

Robertson has continued to play tennis at an extremely high level after winning four district title and helping lead the Lions to team state titles and his own individual state crown as a senior.

Robertson went on to play at Boise State University. Playing both doubles and singles for the Broncos, Robertson won a pair of conference championships and was ranked as high as the top 30 in the country at one point.

After graduating, Robertson knew that he wanted to continue his passion for tennis and started teaching. He started his own academy operating out of Vancouver while still playing as much as possible at competitive tournaments all over the country.

While Robertson had plenty of success as a singles player in both high school and college, the doubles game always appealed to him and seemed to fit his style more aptly.

“I'm a smaller guy and I don't have a huge serve. There's more feel in doubles and it's a strategic game,” Robertson said.

Robertson and McKenna have known each other since they were seven years old, having played in many of the same events as juniors.

“She's incredible. She's as good as most of the guys we go up against,” Robertson said.

McKenna, a former standout from Coos Bay, went on to shine at Arizona State University and the pair recently decided to join forces.

Despite limited experience playing together as a team, it was a good match and they opted to attend the qualifying event in Scottsdale.

“We were strategic about it because the Scottsdale tournament was one of the first of the year and was happening during the NCAA tournament so we figured most of the best college players wouldn't be there,” Robertson said.

The competition was still strong but Robertson and McKenna rolled.

“In the first round we went up against a guy who was 6'10” and served about 135 miles per hour,” Robertson said.

The team won the championship match 6-1, 6-0 to earn a spot in the New Haven event.

The tournament itself is single elimination and features 12 other teams, meaning there is little margin for error.

“In mixed doubles the playing field is leveled a bit and it's all about who's playing well on that day,” Robertson said.

While earning a trip to the US Open would be a dream come true, Robertson continues to be focused on his other passion of teaching junior players.

He is close to opening his own club called PDX High Performance in the Stafford area later this summer.

“Vancouver was great but, when you're at a club, they kind of run things. With this, I'll pretty much just be a one-man show,” Robertson said.

Until then, Robertson will continue to train for his shot at the experience of a lifetime.

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