By Sally Milano, USTA.com
American players who compete on the USTA Pro Circuit this summer have more at stake than winning tournaments and improving their rankings. They also have a chance to earn a main-draw wild card into the US Open, the final Grand Slam event of the year, which will take place August 26 to September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
For the second consecutive year, USTA Player Development will award a wild card to the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points in a series of USTA Pro Circuit events. Only players who have not earned direct acceptance into the US Open are eligible for the wild card.
The men’s events that will determine the wild card are the $50,000 Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger in Binghamton, N.Y., which takes place the week of July 15; the $50,000 Fifth Third Bank Championships in Lexington, Ky., which will be held the week of July 22; the $100,000 Odlum Brown VanOpen presented by Invesco in Vancouver, Canada, which is scheduled for the week of July 29; and the $100,000 Comerica Bank Challenger in Aptos, Calif., which is set for the week of August 5.
The women’s events are the $50,000 Yakima Regional Hospital Challenger in Yakima, Wash., the week of July 8; the $50,000 Oregon Challenger in Portland, Ore., the week of July 15; and the $50,000 Fifth Third Bank Championships in Lexington, the week of July 22.
Ranking points from two of the four men’s events and from two of the three women’s events will be used and combined to calculate the point total to determine the US Open wild-card recipients. If a player competes in more than two events, only his or her two best tournament results will be counted in calculating the point total.
The USTA has used this format for determining wild cards over the last two years at both Roland Garros and the US Open. Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker won wild cards into the 2012 French Open, and then both players advanced to the second round in Paris and broke into the world’s Top 100.
Former college stars Steve Johnson and Mallory Burdette claimed the 2012 US Open wild cards and each went on to reach the third round, and Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers earned wild cards into the 2013 French Open, with Kuznetsov falling in his opening match and Rogers advancing to the second round.
This format for determining the USTA wild card into a Grand Slam has proved to be popular among the players competing on the USTA Pro Circuit.
"I think it's a great way of picking a wild-card recipient," Rogers said after claiming the French Open wild card in May. "It shows the player who can be consistent with results instead of just having one good weekend or one good week. You really have to prove yourself over three weeks, which I think is a great process. You have to be mentally tough, and you have to bring your game throughout the whole three weeks."