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Monday, October 2, 2017

USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge Starts Later This Month; Baptiste Takes Wild Card into ITF Grade 4 This Week; Qualifying Begins Tuesday at Women's ITA All-American Championships

The USTA's annual Australia Open Wild Card Challenge begins in Macon Georgia on October 23rd for the women and in Charlottesville Virginia (and many other locations) on October 30th for the men. 

As in the previous years, the best two of three tournament results, measured by accumulated ATP and WTA points, will determine who will get the 2018 main draw wild card the USTA gets in a trade with Tennis Australia.  The women's three events are all $80,000 prize money tournaments, in Macon, Tyler Texas (new site) and Waco Texas.  Last year's women's wild card winner was Kayla Day.

The American men have a much broader range of tournaments to choose from, a total of 10, including the ATP Masters tournament in Paris.  For the men, both qualifying and main draw points count, only main draw points earn count for the women.  Michael Mmoh won the Australian Open men's wild card last year. The complete list of tournaments counting for the men, which includes the Challengers in Knoxville and Champaign, can be found here.

This week's ITF Junior Circuit tournament in the United States is in a new location, Corpus Christi Texas.  The Grade 4, which is the week before the ITF Grade B1 in Tulsa, has drawn a top 50 player in Hailey Baptiste, who has struggled this summer.  Another rare occurrence in an ITF event in the US was no qualifying for the girls, and the 64 draw was not full, with the top 11 seeds getting byes.  The boys had a 32-draw qualifying and have a full main draw, with Jaycer Lyeons the top seed.  Last week's winners at the Grade 5 in Austin, Hunter Heck and Savannah Broadus, are not seeded in this tournament.

The first round of qualifying was completed today at the men's ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, with Florida freshman Duarte Vale of Portugal taking out top seed Gergely Madarasz of Purdue 6-0, 3-6, 6-4.  I had thought that the ITA was going to start using the Universal Tennis Ratings to help with seeding, or at least for making decisions on who is in qualifying and the main draw, but that isn't the case, with two players among the top 10 in UTR rankings, John McNally of Ohio State and Alberto Barroso-Campos of South Florida, in qualifying, not the main draw.  Vale is also among the Top 25 in UTR.  That doesn't mean that upsets won't happen--Barroso-Campos lost in the first round of qualifying today to Texas A&M freshman Juan Carlos Aguilar--but it would provide a opportunity to play the more competitive matches later in the tournament.  Bobby Knight has more, including the UTRs of all players in the qualifying draw, at College Tennis Today.

Qualifying starts on Tuesday for the women at the All-American in Pacific Palisades, with six of the eight pre-qualifiers freshmen and all six of them 9-16 seeds, the only seeds to qualify.  The University of Georgia is the only school with two qualifiers, freshman Katarina Jokic and Marta Gonzalez.  One of the top freshman in the country will be out after the first round of qualifying, with Jokic playing fellow pre-qualifier Alexandra Sanford of North Carolina on Tuesday.  Meible Chi of Duke is the top seed in qualifying, with North Carolina's Jessie Aney No. 2. The women play two rounds of qualifying on Tuesday.