THE ROAD TO THE FRENCH OPEN BEGINS TODAY
FOR AMERICAN PLAYERS THROUGH
HAR-TRU USTA PRO CIRCUIT WILD CARD CHALLENGE
Results from USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events will determine
Roland Garros men’s and women’s main draw wild card recipients
New social media map allows fans to communicate worldwide about the Challenge
via #USTAHarTruWC on Twitter
Americans competing at the USTA Pro Circuit events
include Robby Ginepri, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Rhyne Williams,
Grace Min, Irina Falconi, Samantha Crawford and Coco Vandeweghe
From the USTA – WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 15, 2013 – The USTA announced that the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge kicks off today with the $100,000 Sarasota (Fla.) Open and the $50,000 Dothan (Ala.) Pro Classic. The challenge will last three weeks and awards a main draw wild card into the French Open to the American man and American woman who earned the most ATP World Tour and WTA tour ranking points in two of the three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court challenger-level events. Only players who have not earned direct acceptance into the French Open are eligible for the wild card.
The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French and US Opens are exchanged.
The Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge will consist of the following events:
USTA Pro Circuit Men’s Events
· $100,000 Sarasota (Fla.) Open (week of April 15)
· $50,000 Savannah (Ga.) Challenger (week of April 22)
· $50,000 USTA Tallahassee (Fla.) Challenger (week of April 29)
USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Events
· $50,000 Dothan (Ala.) Pro Classic (week of April 15)
· $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic, Charlottesville, Va. (week of April 22)
· $50,000 Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic, Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. (week of April 29)
All three men’s events will be streamed live on www.procircuit.usta.com. The women’s events in Charlottesville, Va., and Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., will also be streamed on the website.
Fans can also follow the action through a new, innovative social media map, created in collaboration with the USTA and Har-Tru Sports. Fans can communicate worldwide about the Challenge on Twitter by using the Twitter hashtag #USTAHarTruWC. All tweets containing the hashtag are then placed into a social media map at www.USTAHarTruWC.com. This technology adds a new dimension to the six tournaments by enriching the viewing experience, providing real-time coverage to spectators on and off site, and connecting fans worldwide on the topic of developing on clay.
Men to watch in the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge include: 2011 US Open boys’ singles champion Jack Sock, who is currently ranked a career-high No. 119 and achieved the best result of his pro career in 2012 by reaching the third round of the US Open as a wild card; two-time NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson, who in 2012 became the first reigning NCAA champion to advance to the third round of the US Open in men’s singles since Sargis Sargisian in 1995; and former University of Tennessee standout Rhyne Williams and 2010 NCAA singles champion Bradley Klahn, who both won three matches to qualify for the main draw of the 2012 US Open, becoming just two of the 13 qualifying wild cards to reach the main draw in recorded US Open history. Other notable players are 2005 US Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri, Denis Kudla, Tim Smyczek, Tennys Sandgren, Wayne Odesnik, Michael Russell and Ryan Harrison (Russell and Harrison have direct entry into the French Open and thus are not eligible for the wild card).
In addition, Mardy Fish has been awarded a wild card into the $50,000 Challengers in Savannah and Tallahassee. Fish, once ranked in the Top 10 in the world, has been sidelined with an undisclosed heart condition that was diagnosed almost a year ago. Fish, who is currently ranked No. 42 in the world, already has direct entry into the 2013 French Open, so he is not eligible for the French Open wild card.
Women to watch include: 2011 US Open girls’ champion Grace Min, who cracked the Top 200 for the first time this year; former Georgia Tech standout Irina Falconi, who reached the third round of the 2011 US Open and also earned a USTA wild card into the French Open that year through an eight-player playoff system; 2012 US Open girls’ champion Samantha Crawford, who also qualified for the 2012 US Open main draw; and 17-year-old Victoria Duval, who earned a wild card into the main draw of the 2012 US Open by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships and faced Kim Clijsters in the first round. Other notable players are former No. 1-ranked college singles player for USC Maria Sanchez, Jessica Pegula, Alexa Glatch, Julia Cohen, Madison Brengle, Shelby Rogers and Coco Vandeweghe.
The USTA first used this format for its 2012 French Open wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker. Oudin and Baker each advanced to the second round at last year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100. In addition, Oudin went on to win her first WTA title at the Wimbledon tune-up in Birmingham, England, and Baker followed up his clay-court run on the USTA Pro Circuit by reaching his first ATP Tour final at the French Open tune-up event in Nice, France, as a qualifier, and advancing to the fourth round of Wimbledon and the second round of the US Open.
The USTA used a similar format to grant a men’s and women’s main draw wild card into the 2012 US Open. Steve Johnson and Mallory Burdette both won those wild cards and subsequently each reached the third round of the US Open.
The 2013 French Open main draw will be held Sunday, May 26, to Sunday, June 9.