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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

US Open Men's and Women's Wild Cards Emphasize Youth; US Open National Playoff Singles Draws Posted

The USTA announced the wild cards for the US Open, which begins on Monday, August 31st.  Several of these were known in advance, with the Wild Card Challenge winners and National Junior champions guaranteed a place in the main draw.  Below are the recipients, with ages, and their reason for receiving the wild card noted, if applicable. For those receiving discretionary wild cards their pro ranking is included.

Women's Main Draw:
Sonya Kenin, 16, Girls 18s national champion
Samantha Crawford, 20, USO Wild Card Challenge winner
Jamie Loeb, 20, NCAA singles champion
Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 30, 99
Nicole Gibbs, 22, 117
Louisa Chirico, 19, 119
Sachia Vickery, 20, 137
Oceane Dodin, French reciprocal

Notes on women's main draw wild cards:
Australia returned its women's main draw reciprocal wild card, giving the USTA one more than they usually have.

Last year's girls 18s champion CiCi Bellis applied for a main draw wild card, but did not receive one, so she will need to go through qualifying to get into the main draw this year.  Vicky Duval, returning to competition this month after a year battling Hodgkin's lymphoma, also applied for a main draw wild card and was turned down, receiving a qualifying wild card instead.

Women's Qualifying Draw:
Robin Anderson, 22, 538
Usue Arconada, 16, 477
Tornado Alicia Black, 17, Girls 18s national finalist
Vicky Duval, 19
Raveena Kingsley, 17
Claire Liu, 15, 820
Jessica Pegula, 21, 258
Bernarda Pera, 20, 246

Notes on the women's qualifying wild cards:
Robin Anderson, the ITA Player of the Year, was rewarded for her excellent results this summer. Pegula, who returned this winter after a long injury layoff, and Pera received wild cards over more highly ranked players Lauren Embree and Julia Boserup, who will need more withdrawals to move into qualifying. Sanaz Marand, who has posted some strong results this summer, also did not receive one and is unlikely to get into qualifying, although a doubles wild card may still be forthcoming for her.

Last year's US Open girls champion and WTA 352 Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic was not extended a qualifying wild card, as is often customary at other slams.

There will be one more wild card awarded, to the winner of the US Open National Playoffs this weekend in Connecticut. The draw has been released, with two finalists added to fill out a 16-player draw.  Emma Davis, the New England winner, has apparently withdrawn, with runner-up Carol Finke taking her place.

On a personal note, the girls field at the ITF Grade 1 in College Park that I'm covering next week took a hit with Arconada and Kingsley playing in Flushing Meadows instead.

Men's Main Draw:
Frances Tiafoe, 17, Boys 18s national champion
Bjorn Fratangelo, 22, USO Wild Card Challenge winner
Ryan Shane, 21, NCAA singles champion
Austin Krajicek, 25, 113
Ryan Harrison, 23, 126
Jared Donaldson, 18, 153
Lleyton Hewitt, Australian reciprocal
Pierre-Hughes Herbert, French reciprocal

Notes on the men's main draw wild cards:
First, let me say that it's great that the NCAA American champions, who are not guaranteed wild cards, have been receiving them without a problem since 2009. (In 2008, Amanda McDowell was given only a qualifying wild card). Ryan Shane has been out most of the summer with an injury and hasn't had any impressive results since returning late last month, but, much like fellow Cavalier Danielle Collins in 2014, a wild card was extended. Collins drew Simona Halep, and took the No. 2 seed to three sets, so perhaps Shane can get a better draw and get a chance to show his powerful game too.

Ryan Harrison's wild card was bound to generate discussion, as it's the fourth he's received in the past five years. His ranking takes much of the controversy out of the selection, as it's higher than Donaldson's and no one else is Top 200, but the case for his earning his way into the tournament via qualifying is a compelling one. He did that once, in 2010 and went on to win a match in the main draw. The only other main draw win Harrison has in New York was in 2012, when he received direct entry via his ranking.

Donaldson also received a wild card last year; Krajicek will be making just his second appearance in a slam main draw, with his only previous one at the US Open via the wild card he got for winning Kalamazoo in 2008.

Men's Qualifying Draw:
Marcos Giron, 22, 2014 American Collegiate Invitational champion
Stefan Kozlov, 17, Boys 18s national finalist
Taylor Fritz, 17, 679
Mitchell Krueger, 21, 239
Michael Mmoh, 17, 490
Reilly Opelka, 17, 1112
Tommy Paul, 18, 434
Noah Rubin, 19, 631

Notes on the men's qualifying wild cards: 
As with the women, one more qualifying wild card is up for grabs, with 
the US Open National Playoff winner receiving it.  The draw for that tournament, with again, two finalists receiving entry as well as the 14 sectional winners, is also posted.  The doubles draws, men's, women's and mixed, are not up yet, because those competitions are next week. Those are for main draw wild cards, not qualifying wild cards.  The draws will be here when available.

None of the teenagers who received qualifying wild cards are in any way controversial. Kozlov, Fritz and Tiafoe received qualifying wild cards last year. Mmoh, Paul and Opelka played the Grade 1 in College Park that week. The credentials of this group don't need further mention from me.

Last year there were reciprocal qualifying wild cards for French players, but that did not happen this year.  

Twenty-four-year-old Connor Smith, at 211, is the highest ranked American player not in qualifying and not the recipient of a wild card.

US Open boys champion Omar Jasika of Australia was also not given a qualifying wild card. His current ATP ranking is 259.

My post on the women's US Open wild cards last year is here.

My post on the men's US Open wild cards last year is here.


AR Hacked Off said...

nice write-up, interesting and feel bad for Conner Smith nice ranking yet gets looked over for a WC in qualies even after having a very good summer.

Congrats USTA said...

I thought the USTA did a great job on the wildcards for the US Open. I feel bad for Connor Smith who deserves to be in the qualifying but there was not a spot open and you can argue correctly for all of those juniors. College guys got the shaft but a bad luck year with all the juniors.

I believe the main draw were all obvious choices. I believe this will be the last year for Ryan Harrison for any US Open wildcards. There was just no one else to give it to this year who deserved it.

Now the question: How many wins will the American men get between the main draw and qualifying? (Not included the Aussie & French wc's.) My guess: 2

Those juniors will also take 3 of the US Open Main Draw Doubles Wildcards: Opelka/Fritz (Kalamazoo Winner), Mmoh/Tiafoe, and Paul/Kozlov. Other guesses: Fratangelo/Krueger and my dream pick - Donaldson/Russell

Em said...

I think main draw wild card seem ok, but I am disappointing with qualifying wild cards, especially for women. Some just don't make any sense at all. I must say that I am generally opposed to wild cards, unless you have a play off tournament with that as a prize.

Dave said...

Although I think the other women were deserving, it's hard to fathom Bellis not getting a main draw WC. She's around 150 in the world, was #1 in the world in juniors last year, is only 16 years old, is American, and will be a huge fan draw based on her notoriety from last year. I mean, what more do you possibly want in a wild card?

Tennisforlife said...

I presume it's because she had the opportunity to earn the WC through the National Hard Courts in SD. All the top boys played the Zoo. It would have looked funny to have given Cici a free pass. Colette do you have any color on this. I think it's a good precendent if true.

Colette Lewis said...

I don't know anything specific about CiCi's case. The USTA has always urged anyone age eligible to play the Nationals.

Dave said...

Seems funny that Donaldson would get a WC guaranteed to him without winning KZoo, ranked ~150 this year and ~300 as a 17 year old. Cici is ~150 as a 16 year old and had a good result at the same tournament last year. And for the record I do think JD deserved a WC both this year and last year. Maybe comparing apples to oranges since there aren't as many strong candidates for men's WC as women's, but nonetheless I am surprised.