2014's Wild Cards for Players Winning USTA National Titles; Min vs Gibbs for Innisbrook Title; Giron Reaches Futures Semifinal
Finding a specific item on the vast usta.com site is never easy, so when I came across this list of the 2014 wild card allocation for those juniors who win national tournaments, I thought I would pass it along. Last year, Easter Bowl champion Gage Brymer and 18s Clay Court champions Chloe Ouellet-Pizer and Dan Kerznerman received wild cards into the US Open Junior Championships via these performance-based wild cards, as did, of course, Kalamazoo winners Collin Altamirano and Tommy Paul, and San Diego 16s champion Katerina Stewart.
The discussion about the ramifications of wild cards is ongoing and likely will continue as long as they exist, but I do think a distinction needs to be made between wild cards earned on the court and those conferred based on potential or popularity. The USTA French Open wild card will be decided by points accumulated in designated Pro Circuit events in the next two months, and I think this is an effective innovation, preferable to an invitation-only tournament, as is currently done for the Australian Open wild card.
The final at the women's $25,000 Innisbrook Pro Circuit tournament is set, and it's a rematch of the 2011 US Open Junior semifinals, with Grace Min facing Nicole Gibbs. The unseeded Min, who won the title that year by beating France's Caroline Garcia 7-5, 7-6(3), had the easier route to the Innisbrook final, beating qualifier Gioia Barbieri of Italy 7-6(5), 6-2 in the day's first match. Gibbs looked to be cruising over qualifier Louisa Chirico up 6-2, 5-3 40-0, but Chirico saved those three match points, two more serving in the next game, and forced a third set by winning the subsequent tiebreaker 7-4. Gibbs again took a big lead, serving at 4-1, but she was broken at love and had to save a break point in her next service game to stay in front. That was the last comeback Chirico could muster, and Gibbs broke for a 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 victory, and her first final since winning the $50,000 Yakima Challenger last July.
At the $15,000 Futures in Calabasas, California, UCLA junior Marcos Giron has reached the semifinals, and he is joined there by two other Southern Californians who excelled in college, Daniel Nguyen(Southern Cal) and Jason Jung(Michigan). Jung, the No. 3 seed, defeated 16-year-old wild card Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4 in Friday's quarterfinal, while Nguyen beat former Duke star Henrique Cunha 6-1, 6-4. Late last night, Giron topped former University of Washington All-American Kyle McMorrow 6-2, 6-3. After Nguyen and Jung face off, Giron will again be featured in the night match, taking on No. 6 seed Mate Pavic of Croatia, who, like Giron, is 20 years old and has two Futures titles in singles.
Ken Thomas of Radiotennis.com is audio streaming from Calabasas this weekend.