Last week Taylor Townsend won her first two Pro Circuit titles at the $50,000 tournament in Charlottesville. This week, the 18-year-old left-hander again swept the singles and doubles in a $50,000 tournament, this one in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida, and added an even great prize--the USTA's French Open wild card.
Because rain on Saturday postponed the semifinals until today, Townsend had even more time to consider how important her match with fellow 18-year-old Anett Kontaveit was. If Townsend won that semifinal, she would have a place in the main draw of her first slam later this month in Paris, winning the USTA's Har-Tru Challenge for its reciprocal wild card. Trailing 6-3, 5-3, 40-15 Townsend looked out of the running for Paris, but she saved those two match points, went on to take the second set tiebreaker and secured the third set, and the wild card, with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.
Like Robby Ginepri, who needed just to reach the final, not win it, to claim the French Open wild card, Townsend left no doubt as to who was the best player this week by winning the championship match too. In the final, Townsend, who was an unseeded special exempt entry, beat No 7 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-1. Enough tennis for one day you say? Not for Townsend, who still had a doubles semifinal and possibly a final left to play. She and Asia Muhammad, who also took the doubles title in Charlottesville last week, won them both, beating Jan Abaza and Sanaz Marand in the final 6-2, 6-1, after getting by future Florida Gators Peggy Porter and Josie Kuhlman 6-3, 4-6, 10-5 in the semifinals.
So with four victories Sunday, Townsend will certainly reach career-highs in the WTA singles and doubles rankings tomorrow, and will make her grand slam singles debut in Paris in a few weeks. The release from the USTA on her wild card win is here.
At the men's $10,000 Vero Beach Futures, Connor Smith couldn't quite equal Townsend's feats, but he did win two singles matches over the top two seeds to win his first title as a professional. Smith, 23, played two years at Florida State before transferring to Ohio State for his junior and senior seasons, completing his eligibility last May. In the semifinal, which was interrupted by rain Saturday, he defeated No. 2 seed Jorge Aguilar of Chile 6-3, 6-4 and in the final Smith beat top seed Facundo Mena of Argentina 6-2, 6-4. Smith also was in the doubles final, with former teammate Devin McCarthy, but the No. 3 seeds were defeated 6-4, 6-7(3), 10-7 by top seeds Aguilar and Daniel Garza of Mexico. The only set Smith lost in singles all week was to International Spring Championships winner Naoki Nakagawa of Japan, in the quarterfinals.
In the $15,000 Futures in Mexico this week, former Georgia Tech All-American Kevin King, also 23, won his first professional singles title, beating No. 8 seed Adam El Mihdawy, also of the US, 6-3, 7-5. King, the No. 5 seed in Mexico, has had most of his success in doubles since graduating from Georgia Tech in 2012, winning three Challenger and three Futures titles with former teammate Juan Spir in the past nine months. This week, he and former Tech teammate Dean O'Brien reached the doubles final, but the No. 2 seeds lost to top seeds Cesar Ramirez and Miguel-Angel Reyes-Varela(Texas) of Mexico 7-6(1), 6-1.
2013 French Open boys champion Christian Garin of Chile won his first Futures title at a $10,000 tournament in Brazil. Garin, the No. 2 seed, defeated top seed Thales Turini of Brazil 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the final.