Taylor Townsend won the 2014 Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge by claiming the singles titles at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit events in Charlottesville, Va., and Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.
© Courtesy Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic
By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com
In her junior career, Taylor Townsend won the Australian Open singles and doubles titles and the doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, demonstrating an all-court game that seemed best suited for faster surfaces. Throughout it all, though, Townsend insisted that she liked to play on clay and could succeed on the surface.
This spring, she proved it.
Townsend clinched a berth in the main draw of this year’s French Open by winning the 2014 Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. This will be the first Grand Slam main draw for the 18-year-old from Chicago, who played in the US Open Qualifying Tournament in 2011 and 2013, reaching the final round of qualifying in 2013.
The wild card was awarded to the American woman who accumulated the greatest number of WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 clay-court events—the Dothan Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala., the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., and the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.
Townsend earned hers by sweeping the titles in Charlottesville and Indian Harbour Beach, both as an unseeded player, dropping just three sets in 10 matches. She joins the winner of the men’s Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, former US Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri.
Any U.S. player who did not receive direct entry into the 2014 French Open was eligible for the wild card, awarded to the man and woman who earned the most ATP/WTA ranking points at select USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2014 French and US Opens are exchanged.
In 2012, Townsend became the first American girl to finish as the year-end No. 1 in the ITF World Junior Rankings since Gretchen Rush in 1982. She entered Indian Harbour Beach ranked a career-best No. 256 in the WTA rankings and will move close to breaking the Top 200 when the new rankings come out Monday.
Previous winners of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge are Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker (2012) and Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers (2013).