By Sally Milano, USTA.com
For the second consecutive year, the USTA Pro Circuit will be utilized to determine wild cards into the French Open.
In the newly named Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA tour ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events will receive wild cards to compete in the main draws at 2013 Roland Garros.
The men’s events included in the challenge are the $100,000 Challenger in Sarasota, Fla., held the week of April 15; the $50,000 Challenger in Savannah, Ga., held the week of April 22; and the $50,000 Challenger in Tallahassee, Fla., held the week of April 29. The women’s tournaments consist of the $50,000 event in Dothan, Ala., held the week of April 15; the $50,000 event in Charlottesville, Va., held the week of April 22; and the $50,000 event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., held the week of April 29.
The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French and US Opens are exchanged.
Har-Tru Sports, one of the leading providers of clay courts, has signed a three-year agreement to be the title sponsor of the USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.
"The USTA Pro Circuit has long been devoted to developing American world-class players, and now we have a world-class partner in that endeavor in Har-Tru," said Brian Earley, director of the USTA Pro Circuit. "Learning to play on clay is an important part of developing the all-around player in tennis today, and Har-Tru is a top-notch, innovative company that has served the needs of American clay-court tennis for generations."
Added Pat Hanssen, General Manager of Har-Tru Sports, "The fact that we can help the USTA leverage their efforts to drive more high-level training and competition on clay, and indeed support the method for these players to gain wild card entry into Roland Garros, lines up perfectly with our commitment to developing champions."
The USTA first used the challenge format for its French Open wild cards in 2012, when Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker earned wild cards based on their performances on the USTA Pro Circuit. Both players advanced to the second round at last year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100 of the world rankings.
The USTA used a similar format to grant a men’s and women’s main-draw wild card into the 2012 US Open. Steve Johnson and Mallory Burdette won those wild cards, and each went on to reach the third round in Flushing Meadows.
The 2013 French Open main draw will be held Sunday, May 26, through Sunday, June 9.
Information on the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge will be available on Twitter through #USTAHarTruWC.