Why Qualifying Points Don't Count in Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge; USTA Junior Wild Card Update; Get to Know 12s Spring Champion Adam Neff
A couple of days ago, I responded to a comment about the USTA's French Open wild card points accrual with the statement that in 2012, the qualifying points were counted in determining the winner.
This is incorrect. Qualifying points earned do not count in the standings now, nor did they last year, when Brian Baker and Melanie Oudin won the French Open wild cards with their performances in the designated tournaments, now known as the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.
The fact sheets for the 2013 Har-Tru Challenge, which can be found on the Pro Circuit home page at usta.com, state "The wild card will be awarded to the American player with the highest total of cumulative singles main draw ATP (or WTA) ranking points..."(emphasis mine), and I'm told that was the same as last year, and Baker's point total from last year bears that out.
Why qualifying points wouldn't count, although a minor issue, is a question that has been raised by a few readers, and Lew Brewer, who is the USTA point person on this, provided me with this answer.
"Our opinion is that we think that's the most fair," Brewer told me in a telephone conversation. "I understand why people would argue why you would want to include the qualifying points--because it's hard to qualify, they've played matches already. The other side of that is that they get extra points if they qualify. They've been around the site for a few days, so they've acclimated, especially if someone is coming from another tournament, and they've had that opportunity to get used to the courts, the facility, the water, all that stuff. I think a lot of times that's why you see some upsets in the the first round, because qualifying players have had a chance to get used to the whole atmosphere. We feel it is just more fair for everyone just to count the main draw points."
I personally would like to see the qualifying points count, while recognizing that it's probably never going to matter and is a small part of an otherwise great system for awarding a wild card. My feeling, which I relayed to Brewer, is that the minuscule points on offer for qualifying, where you must win 2 or 3 matches, make this an "advantage" that is very expensive in terms of physical exertion. And if the ATP (or WTA) is awarding points for a result, they have determined it has value, so I don't think it's necessary to exclude it from this competition. But my thoughts are just that, and the fact sheet provided the notice necessary to the participants, so the discussion is now just expressing opinions now that I've gotten the facts straight myself.
Another means of receiving entry into a tournament is via wild card, and this year, as in the past several, the USTA has published the performance-based wild cards awarded for results in junior competition. The wild cards are not always used; for example, last year, both Easter Bowl ITF champions Taylor Townsend and Mackenzie McDonald received entry into the US Open juniors based on their ITF junior rankings. But they are a means for players who do not play the ITF circuit regularly to get into the US Open juniors. Caroline Price, the 2010 USTA 18s Clay Court champion, played the US Open juniors that year due to her wild card, and this year's Easter Bowl ITF champion Gage Brymer is now assured of his place in the draw in New York this September.
Girls Easter Bowl champion Mayo Hibi, however, is another story. Hibi is a Japanese national, who has lived in Southern California for nearly 15 years and is eligible to play in USTA events because she meets the USTA's requirements, but because she has not taken the step necessary to certify herself to represent the USA in ITF team competitions, she cannot be granted the US Open junior wild card she earned with her win at the Easter Bowl. This also extends to a much more important and lucrative wild card into the US Open main draw that goes to the USTA National 18s winner in August, should she win that. My understanding is that Hibi's status isn't permanent; in other words, she could notify the USTA of her intention to represent the United States and be eligible for that US Open main draw wild card (or qualifying wild card if she were to make the 18s final), but as of now she has not done so.
Here is the language, which I don't recall seeing before, on the junior performance-based wild card restrictions.
Rules and Restrictions Related to Results-Based Wild Cards:
- Players/teams qualifying for a wild card are not required apply for the wild card by the deadline; however, an application is preferred - see ITF Junior Tournament Wild Cards and USTA Pro Circuit Wild Cards above.
- Only those players who have not expressed an interest to compete for another country or have not represented another country in ITF team competition are eligible to receive wild cards. Players must have made every effort to become eligible for USA International Team Events and be Jr Davis Cup or Jr Fed Cup eligible.
- Players must be age eligible by ITF rules to receive wild cards for US Open Junior Championships.
- Players receiving US Open Junior Championship singles wild cards are expected to sign-up to play in the US Open Junior Championship doubles event.
- Doubles wild cards are awarded to teams - players must play with the same doubles partner. For example, if a team wins the The USTA National Championships (Hard Courts) and one of the partners is not age eligible for the US Open Junior Championships, the team will not receive a wild card.