USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge Begins for Women This Week in Macon $50K; Grade 4 ITF in Atlanta Underway; Apisah Wins WTA Future Stars Competition
The USTA today announced the USTA Pro Circuit tournaments that will make up its Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, the annual competition for the wild card the USTA receives in return for providing one for Tennis Australia to use for the US Open.
The men's competition, in which the best two results from three $50,000 Challengers, measured by ATP points earned in the main draw, begins next week in Charlottesville Virginia, then moves to Knoxville Tennessee the following week and concludes the next week at the tournament in Champaign Illinois.
The women's competition is also made up of three events, all at the $50,000 level, with the only difference being that the women's competition begins this week in Macon Georgia. The other two tournaments are next week in Scottsdale Arizona and the following week in Waco Texas. Last year Noah Rubin won the men's Australian Open wild card with his title in Charlottesville, and Samantha Crawford won the women's wild card with her title in Scottsdale. Last year Scottsdale was the last of the three, but this year it has switched calendar weeks with Waco.
Crawford is the top seed this week in Macon, with wild cards going to Sabrina Santamaria, Danielle Lao, Jessica Wacnik and Alexa Guarachi, who now plays for Chile. Qualifying, which is three rounds to determine four qualifiers, finishes on Tuesday. Americans in the final round of qualifying are Alexandra Mueller, Danielle Collins, Ingrid Neel and former Michigan teammates Emina Bektas and Ronit Yurovsky, who play each other for a spot in the main draw.
The men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week is a $25,000 Futures in Burlingame California.
As he was last week, Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium is the top seed, with Sam Barry of Ireland the No. 2 seed. Berkeley Futures champion Marcos Giron is in the draw, as is Berkeley finalist Andre Goransson of Cal, who received a wild card for the second straight week. The other three wild cards went to Tom Fawcett of Stanford, and Billy Griffiths and Gunther Matta, both from Cal.
The ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta this week is the first of three lower-level ITF events in the US leading up to the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl. Grade 4s in South Carolina and Boca Raton follow in consecutive weeks. Although most of the Atlanta competitors are from the US, the No. 1 seeds are not, with Taiwan's Ray Ho and Ireland's Georgia Drummy at the top of the draws. The tournament's website is here.
A Future Stars competition is held conjunction with the WTA Finals in Singapore, with 16-and-under and 14-and-under champions in fields comprised of competitors from the Asia-Pacific region. This year's 16-and-under champion is Violet Apisah of Australia, who is the