Wild Cards Townsend and Pegula Win First USO Qualifying Matches; USO Mixed Doubles Playoffs Begin; Sandgren Turns Pro
American wild cards Taylor Townsend and Jessica Pegula recorded two significant wins in the first round of US Open qualifying today. Townsend, 15, beat No. 11 seed and the WTA's 122nd-ranked Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain 7-6(2), 6-3, while the 17-year-old Pegula topped WTA No. 174 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 7-6(1).
Townsend broke Parra Santonja for the second time to take a 5-2 lead in the second set, but was unable to serve it out. That apparently didn't bother her, as Townsend went on to break Parra Santonja again for the victory. Townsend, who has never played above the $50,000 challenger level, will play unseeded Laura Robson of Great Britain in the second round on Thursday. Pegula's second round opponent is No. 4 seed Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania.
Townsend and Pegula were the only women's wild cards to advance to the second round. Liz Jeukeng, Robin Anderson, Nicole Gibbs and Krista Hardebeck lost their opening matches today, as did reigning US Open girls champion Daria Gavrilova of Russia and reigning Wimbledon girls champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia. (Gibbs is the subject of this feature by Marcia Frost for the Tennis Recruiting Network). Hardebeck's loss, by an unexpectedly stark 6-0, 6-2 score, was inflicted by fellow American Chichi Scholl. Scholl was in qualifying on her own ranking, which is now 186, and it's surprising that with her recent excellent results she wasn't in the College Park wild card tournament for the main draw prize. But there are players who prefer to play their way in, and she may be one of those. Scholl will play No. 6 seed Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic Thursday. Julia Cohen, the only other US woman in on her own ranking, lost to No. 17 seed Romina Oprandi of Italy.
On the men's side, three former college players advanced to the second round, joining Rhyne Williams, Bradley Klahn, Mitchell Frank, Denis Kudla and Blake Strode, who won their first matches on Tuesday. Greg Ouellette, the former Florida Gator and one of the last players into the qualifying draw, beat Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia 6-4, 6-2. He will play No. 2 seed Paul Capdeville of Chile on Thursday. Former Duke star Michael Yani took out No. 16 seed James Ward of Great Britain 7-6(2), 6-4 and in one of the last matches to finish tonight, former Fighting Illini Rajeev Ram beat Ricardo Hocevar of Brazil 7-5, 6-3. Yani plays Pablo Galdon of Argentina, and Ram gets alternate Carsten Ball, who got in when Marinko Matosevic, who was the No. 22 seed, took Lleyton Hewitt's main draw wild card. It's just a coincidence that Ball is also an Australian.
American men falling in the first round today were Zack Fleishman, wild card Dan Kosakowski and Alex Kuznetsov.
After the first round, half of the men's seeds have lost, although the top three are still in contention. The women's seeds have done slightly better, with 19 surviving the first round, including the top four.
The draws are available at usopen.org. The order of play for Thursday is here. The usopen.org recap of the day's action is here.
The ITA is tracking the current and former college players in the US Open qualifying on its website.
At noon on Thursday, the main draw will be revealed on a special one-hour edition of ESPN's SportsCenter. I will be tweeting matchups of interest regarding the junior and college players in the draw.
The National Playoffs for the US Open main draw mixed doubles wild card began today in New Haven, with only 15 teams in the draw, and one of them didn't show up. The Southwest section winners Nicole Melichar and Sam Harrison weren't among the participants, giving top seeds David Martin and Christina Fusano a bye, and Southern California winners Jeff Tarango and Patricia Taribini didn't show, giving the Midwest runners-up Michaela Kissell and Jacob Eddins a walkover. In today's action, No. 2 seeds Blake Strode and Whitney Jones were beaten by Yasmin Schnack and Eric Robertson. Strode was commuting to New Haven from New York on his day off from singles qualifying. One of the matches is still in progress, but the draw can be found at the New Haven tournament website. The live scoring for the women's event also includes the National Playoff results.
And finally, the Tennessean made official what has been rumored for several weeks. Tennys Sandgren is turning pro and will not return for his junior year at the University of Tennessee.