By Sally Milano, USTA.com
The next few weeks are among the most highly anticipated in the 34-year history of the USTA Pro Circuit, with French Open wild cards at stake, stellar player fields on hand and live streaming on tap through the first week of May.
Starting April 15 with the men's 2013 Sarasota Open in Sarasota, Fla., and the women's Dothan Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala., several up-and-coming Americans competing on the USTA Pro Circuit will begin their quest for a wild card into the 2013 French Open.
In the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events will receive wild cards to compete in the French Open main draw. This is the second consecutive year that the USTA Pro Circuit will be utilized to determine the wild cards into Roland Garros.
In addition to the Sarasota Challenger, a $100,000 event that takes place April 15-21, the men's events comprising the challenge include the $50,000 Savannah Challenger in Savannah, Ga., from April 22-28, and the $50,000 USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger in Tallahassee, Fla., from April 29-May 4. For the first time in the 14-year history of the event, the Tallahassee Challenger is changing its surface from hard courts to clay courts.
In addition to Dothan, the women's events in the challenge include the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., scheduled for April 22-28, and the $50,000 Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., set for April 29-May 5.
Mardy Fish, currently the 42nd-ranked player in the world, recently accepted wild cards to compete in both Savannah and Tallahassee. Fish headlines a phenomenal field of Americans who will be competing at one or more of these tournaments over the next few weeks, a list that includes two of the most promising young talents in the men’s game in Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock as well as promising talents Bradley Klahn, Denis Kudla, Steve Johnson, Tim Smyczek, Rhyne Williams and Donald Young.
For the women, former Stanford University star and current world No. 89 Mallory Burdette joins former US Open junior champions CoCo Vandeweghe and Grace Min in addition to Irina Falconi, Maria Sanchez, Alexa Glatch, Julia Cohen, Jessica Pegula, Nicole Gibbs, Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle in one or more of the player fields.
It's easy to keep track of your favorite stars competing in the men's events in the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, as USTA.com offers live streaming of all USTA Pro Circuit men's Challenger matches for free in 2013. Coverage of main-draw matches on the tournament’s main courts includes three unique camera angles, an on-site commentator and scoreboard graphics.
Tennis fans can also watch the women in action from Charlottesville starting April 22 with a live stream on USTA.com.
The free, live stream of both the men’s Challengers and from the women’s event in Charlottesville is available at procircuit.usta.com
And follow all the latest news on the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge on Twitter at #USTAHarTruWC