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Ginepri, Townsend Earn French Wild Card

May 3, 2014 08:38 PM
Grace Min serves in the Rock Hill Rocks Open.
Taylor Townsend has a chance for a French Open wild card.

Metro Atlanta players took center stage in USTA Pro Circuit tournaments this week.

Former world No. 15 and 2005 US Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri, 31, of Kennesaw, Ga., will return to the highest level of the game after earning a main draw wild card into the French Open by winning the 2014 Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. 

Taylor Townsend, formerly of Atlanta, won her semifinal match Sunday at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. She edged out Grace Min, grew up in Lawrenceville and Norcross, Ga.

The USTA awards one men’s singles wild card into the French Open to an American who may not have otherwise had the opportunity based on results on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2014 French and US Opens are exchanged.

USTA Player Development awards the wild card to the player who earns the greatest number of ATP ranking points at a series of USTA Pro Circuit clay-court challengers—a $100,000 event in Sarasota, Fla., and two $50,000 events in Savannah, Ga., and in Tallahassee, Fla.

Ginepri, currently ranked No. 442 in the world, clinched the wild card today by defeating James McGee, 6-1, 6-4, in the semifinals in Tallahassee, earning 48 ranking points. Ginepri overtook Daniel Kosakowski, who earned 42 points in the wild card challenge. Ginepri will also play in Tallahassee’s final later today.

“I’m thrilled to go back to Paris, it’s a special place for me,” Ginepri said today after his win. He also joked: “I’ve said this in press conferences there, but I think they named RG after me—Robby Ginepri—not Roland Garros.”

“It’s a big accomplishment, especially with all of the injuries and ups and downs I’ve had,” said Ginepri. “Last year and the year before, I was contemplating retiring. If this week didn’t go well, I could have pulled the trigger on that, as well. This is a good reward and I’m definitely eager to work as hard as I can leading into the French and fight hard.”

Ginepri will be making his ninth main draw appearance at the French Open, last competing in the main draw in 2010, where he reached the fourth round after defeating Sam Querrey and then-No. 18 Juan Carlos Ferrero. He then lost to Novak Djokovic. Ginepri also reached the fourth round of the French Open in 2008. Ginepri is the only active U.S. man to have advanced to a Grand Slam semifinal (2005 US Open, where he lost to Andre Agassi in five sets). He was one of the top Americans in the world in the mid-2000s, winning three ATP singles titles. During his career, Ginepri has reached the fourth round or better at all four Grand Slam events and peaked at No. 15 in the world in 2005. He has also competed for the U.S. in Davis Cup (2004) and the Olympics (2008).

Ginepri suffered a broken elbow in late 2010, when he fell off his bicycle trying to avoid a squirrel; the injury kept him sidelined through the middle of 2011. He won the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Sunrise, Fla., in January 2013 for his last career singles title.

Ginepri joins both Brian Baker and Alex Kuznetsov as players who took advantage of this opportunity to launch a comeback in their tennis careers. Baker earned the French Open wild card in 2012 and subsequently reached his first ATP World Tour final in Nice, France, advanced to the second round of the French Open, and broke into the Top 100 after advancing to the fourth round of Wimbledon. Kuznetsov, the 2013 wild card winner, peaked at No. 120 in the world last September with strong results on the USTA Pro Circuit and ATP World Tour. On the women’s side, Melanie Oudin earned the USTA French Open wild card in 2012 and in turn, reached her first career final in Birmingham, England, shortly thereafter.

The men’s wild card will be awarded from the best combined results in two of the three events above.Ginepri could earn 80 points if he wins the Tallahassee title Sunday.

Har-Tru Sports, the leading provider of clay tennis courts, is in its second year as title sponsor of the challenge after signing a three-year agreement in 2013. New this year, Har-Tru is launching a “Be One with the Clay” video contest in which tennis fans of all ages can create a video, demonstrating how clay courts have impacted their games. The contest winner will win a trip for two to the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Springs, Calif. More information can be found at www.beonewiththeclay.com.




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