Victoria Duval in action during the 2013 US Open.
© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com
Victoria Duval made a name for herself with her stellar play and remarkable story at the 2013 US Open. And now she’ll have a chance to add another chapter by qualifying for the main draw at the Australian Open.
Duval, 17, along with 21-year-old Denis Kudla, will headline the up-and-coming young Americans playing for singles wild-card entries into the 2014 Australian Open at the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, to be held Dec. 20-22 at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.
In total, the field will feature eight men and eight women, who will each be competing for a wild card into the men’s and women’s singles main draws, respectively, in Melbourne.
In addition to Duval, the women's field includes Atlanta native and 2011 US Open junior champion Grace Min; world No. 125 Shelby Rogers, who won USTA wild cards into the French Open and US Open in 2013; No. 150 Madison Brengle, who won USTA wild cards into the 2007 and 2008 Australian Opens; No. 175 Maria Sanchez, once the top-ranked college singles player at USC; No. 184 Nicole Gibbs, the two-time reigning NCAA singles champion from Stanford; No. 188 Julia Cohen, a former Top 100 player; and No. 195 Sachia Vickery, the 2013 USTA Girls 18s national champion who reached the second round at the 2013 US Open.
Joining Kudla in the men's field are Jarmere Jenkins, won reached the NCAA singles final and who won the NCAA doubles and team titles for the University of Virginia this year; No. 130 Rhyne Williams, the 2011 NCAA singles finalist at Tennessee who won last year’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoff; No. 156 Steve Johnson, who won consecutive NCAA singles titles in 2011-12 while at USC; No. 183 Tennys Sandgren, a former all-American at Tennessee; No. 241 Austin Krajicek, a former USTA Boys' 18s champion and all-American at Texas A&M; No. 304 Bjorn Fratangelo, the 2011 French Open boys’ champion; and No. 306 Chase Buchanan, the 2009 USTA Boys’ 18s national champion and US Open boys' singles runner-up as well as the 2012 NCAA doubles champion while at Ohio State.
The USTA secured the opportunity for the wild cards through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia, where the two national federations exchanged wild cards for the 2013 US Open and 2014 Australian Open.
To help kick off the event, former tennis pros and celebrities Luke and Murphy Jensen, whose underdog run to the 1993 French Open doubles championship captivated the tennis world, will play doubles against five local teams in the “Battle of Georgia” exhibition on Saturday, Dec. 21.
The Jensen brothers will also host a women’s tennis clinic at Life Time on the morning of Friday, Dec. 20. In addition, the club will host a kids’ day on Saturday morning, featuring the players competing in the Playoffs, with all kids attending receiving free admission to Saturday’s matches.
Eighteen-year old Madison Keys, currently the youngest player in the WTA Top 40, won the last two women’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, advancing to the third round of the 2013 Australian Open, and, later, to the third round at Wimbledon. Williams won last year’s men’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoff; he would go on to reach his first ATP semifinal, in Houston, a few months later.
Previous champions of the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs are John Isner, Ryan Harrison, Lauren Davis, Christina McHale and CoCo Vandeweghe.
Tickets for the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, Battle of Georgia exhibition and women’s clinic can be purchased by visiting www.australianwildcard.com, with single-day tickets and full-weekend packages available for adults and kids, as well as VIP table reservations by the day for the full weekend. The 2013 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs are sponsored by Kia, MiraFlex, which will work in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project to visit local Virgina hospitals, and OneonOne Physical Therapy.