Monday, July 11, 2016

USTA's US Open Wild Card Challenge Begins This Week at Stockton $50K; Tiafoe Falls in Final in Winnetka Challenger, Kozlov Takes Doubles Crown; Failla Beats Top Seed in Winnipeg $25K

After a long day of travel, I'm back home in Kalamazoo, where, in contrast to London, July 11th feels like summer, not late fall.  I need to get some sleep, so this will be short post to catch up on a few items from last weekend and look ahead at this week on the Pro Circuit.  I will devote tomorrow's post to what's gone on in the lower level junior ITFs the past two weeks, while I've been concentrating on Wimbledon.

The USTA announced today its annual US Open Wild Card Challenge, with one American man and one American woman earning a main draw wild card if they accumulate the most points in two of the three events designated for this competition.

The first of the three women's events kicks off this week at the $50,000 University of the Pacific Challenger in Stockton, California. The second event is next week in Sacramento, another $50,000 level tournament, and the following week, the final tournament, a $50,000 event, will be held in Lexington, Kentucky. This means the women's wild card will be decided by the end of this month.

The first two men's events are both $50,000 Challengers--at Binghamton New York next week and Sacramento the following week. The men's competition wraps up at the $100,000 Aptos Challenger the week of August 8th, the same week as the Kalamazoo Nationals.

The fact sheets for the two competitions can be found here.

The Stockton draw features Nicole Gibbs as the No. 1 seed, with Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic the No. 2 seed.  Kayla Day, who lost in the Wimbledon girls semifinals on Friday, has made the trip back across eight time zones to compete there, receiving a wild card. Michaela Gordon, who lost in the second round in the Wimbledon juniors, also was given a wild card, as were Sanaz Marand and 17-year-old Ashley Kratzer.

The men do not have a USTA Pro Circuit event this week, but many US men are playing at the $75,000 Challenger in Winnipeg, Canada.  Bjorn Fratangelo is the top seed, with Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, last week's winner at the $50,000 Winnetka Challenger, seeded second.  Wild cards went to rising UNC senior Brayden Schnur and juniors Benjamin Segouin and Felix Auger-Aliassime, with the latter two, like Day, returning to their home county for competition just a couple of days after competing in the Wimbledon junior championships.  Kevin Kylar of Canada received the fourth wild card into the main draw.

In the final of last week's $50,000 Winnetka Challenger, top seed Nishioka defeated No. 8 seed Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-2. Tiafoe, the 2015 Kalamazoo 18s champion, was not the only finalist from last year's 18s National championship in the running for a title last week.  Kalamazoo Runner-up Stefan Kozlov, partnering former Tennessee Volunteer JP Smith of Australia, won the doubles title, with the unseeded team beating No. 3 seeds David O'Hare of Ireland and Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 6-3 in the final.  It's Kozlov's fourth pro doubles title and second at the Challenger level.

Winnipeg has a $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event this week, a joint tournament with the men competing in the ATP Challenger.

The tournament has already undergone quite a shock with top seed and WTA 134 Julia Glushko of Israel losing to qualifier Jessica Failla, a rising sophomore at USC, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 today. Bianca Andreescu, yet another Wimbledon junior competitor, received a wild card, as did Clemson rising sophomore Marie-Alexandre Leduc, 2015 NCAA finalist Carol Zhao and 16-year-old Isabelle Boulais, all of Canada.