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USTA to hold first Australian Open Wild Card Challenge

October 8, 2014 10:10 AM
Taylor Townsend won the wild card into the 2014 French Open and advanced to the third round.

By Sally Milano, USTA.com

For the past three years, the USTA Pro Circuit has been utilized to award wild cards into two Grand Slam tournaments the French Open and the US Open. Now, for the first time ever, the same process will be used to award wild cards into the Australian Open.

In the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of three select $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events during the fall will earn main-draw wild cards into the 2015 Australian Open. Only Americans who did not earn direct entry into the Australian Open are eligible.

This format replaces the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, an elimination tournament that has been held since 2006 for the women and 2007 for the men. In each of the last five years, the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs featured an eight-player, single-elimination playoff held at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga., to determine the Australian Open wild cards.

The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2014 US Open and 2015 Australian Open are exchanged.

The women's tournaments that will comprise the new Australian Open Wild Card Challenge include the Tennis Classic of Macon in Macon, Ga., the week of Oct. 20; the John Newcombe Women’s Pro Challenge in New Braunfels, Texas, the week of Oct. 27; and the South Seas Island Resort Women’s Pro Classic in Captiva Island, Fla., the week of Nov. 3.

The men's events in the challenge include the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger in Charlottesville, Va., the week of Oct. 27; the Knoxville 2014 Challenger in Knoxville, Tenn., the week of Nov. 3; and the JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana in Champaign, Ill., the week of Nov. 10.

Fans can easily follow the action from all of these tournaments with live streaming on USTA.com, as well as on Twitter through @USTAProCircuit.

The USTA first used the Pro Circuit wild card format in 2012 to award wild cards into the French Open and US Open, and it has been doing so ever since.

This year, Taylor Townsend, the women’s winner of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, was a top story at Roland Garros, reaching the third round. Veteran Robby Ginepri won the 2014 men’s French Open wild card. Two-time NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs earned a wild card into the 2014 US Open through the USTA Pro Circuit and achieved her career-best Grand Slam result by advancing to the third round. Wayne Odesnik earned the US Open men’s wild card.

The 2015 Australian Open main draw will be held Monday, Jan. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 1.




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