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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Wimbledon Main Draw Wild Cards Include 2023 Junior Champion Searle and TCU All-American Fearnley; Ngounoue and Four Top British Juniors Receive Qualifying Wild Cards; Lutkemeyer Ousts Top Seed in Rancho Santa Fe; Del Potro to Open Junior Academy in Florida

Most of the Wimbledon wild cards were announced today, with just one men's singles and one women's singles main draw wild card yet to be awarded. Those traditionally go to players who win the ATP Challenger 125 in Ilkley and the ITF Women's 100 in Ilkley this week.

The women's main draw wild cards include four former slam champions: Angelique Kerber of Germany, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Naomi Osaka of Japan and Emma Raducanu of Great Britain. The other three announced today are Great Britain's Heather Watson, Francesca Jones and Lily Miyazaki(Oklahoma). 

The men's main draw wild cards do not include any stars of the same magnitude as the women's, and all are British: Liam Broady, Jan Choinski, Arthur Fery(Stanford), Billy Harris, Paul Jubb(South Carolina), Jake Fearnley(TCU) and Henry Searle.

Fearnley's title at last week's Challenger in Nottingham no doubt led to his inclusion in the main draw; Charlie Broom(Dartmouth, Baylor), who lost to Fearnley in the final, was awarded a qualifying wild card. Searle, the Wimbledon boys champion in 2023, would normally be given a qualifying wild card, but he has had some success in Challengers this year and won three matches (two qualifying, one main) last week in Nottingham. 

Broom, who received a special exempt entry, is through to the second round of the Ilkley Challenger, where he'll play two-time Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda. 

The qualifying wild cards for women are surprising, in that Amelia Rajecki, the recent NC State graduate, did not receive one. After beating two WTA Top 100 players over the weekend to qualify for the WTA 250 in Birmingham and giving former teammate and WTA Top 50 player Diana Shnaider a good battle in the first round, Rajecki had proven her level was certainly that of the Wimbledon qualifying field, but to no avail. There are still qualifying wild cards available for the playoff the LTA holds Thursday and Friday, so perhaps she still has an opportunity to earn a wild card that way.

2023 Wimbledon girls champion Clervie Ngounoue received the customary qualifying wild card given to the previous year's junior champions, but she has not played since the first of April, putting her participation in doubt. Three other juniors, all from Great Britain, received women's qualifying wild cards: Hannah Klugman(ITF Junior No. 6), Mingge Xu(9) and Mika Stojsavljevic(29). The other three qualifying wild cards went to British players Emily Appleton, Amarni Banks and Sonay Kartal.

Jack Pinnington Jones, the Most Outstanding Player of TCU's NCAA Team Championship last month, received a qualifying wild card, as did Broom, Jay Clarke, Felix Gill, George Loffhagen and ITF Junior No. 22 Oliver Bonding. Two qualifying wild cards are available via the LTA playoff and there is one additional men's qualifying wild card to be announced.

Some doubles wild cards were also announced, including men's main draw wild cards for Fearnley and Pinnington Jones, and Fery and Broome.

Three of the four No. 1 seeds advanced to the second round with wins today at the USTA Pro Circuit tournaments, with Mitchell Krueger (Tulsa $25K), Victoria Hu (Wichita $25K) and Learner Tien (Rancho Santa Fe $15K) all getting through in straight sets. Krueger defeated Murphy Cassone(Arizona State) 6-4, 6-4, Hu beat lucky loser Mary Boyce Deatherage 6-3, 6-2 and Tien defeated Patrick Maloney(Michigan) 6-2, 6-2. But at the $15,000 women's tournament in Rancho Santa Fe, top seed Amy Zhu(Michigan) was eliminated by UCLA rising junior Anne Lutkemeyer, a qualifier, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. 

The first round is still in progress in Wichita, which had a rain delay earlier.

2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro has announced he will be entering the highly competitive tennis academy scene in Florida, with a new venture at the Indian Springs Country Club in Boynton Beach. 

The Del Potro Tennis Academy is expected to open in September. For more on Del Potro's motivation for starting an academy and an update on the injuries that have kept him from competing for the past several years, see this article