2016 US Open girls’ champ
earns AO wild card
Sally Milano | November 14, 2016
Kayla Day shined at the 2016 US Open, winning her opening match in the main draw and claiming the girls' singles title for her first junior Grand Slam singles crown. Now she'll have a chance to make her mark Down Under.
The 17-year-old Day earned a wild card into the main draw of the 2017 Australian Open Sunday by clinching the USTA Pro Circuit's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. This will be her first appearance in a Grand Slam main draw outside the United States.
Day wrapped up the Australian Open berth by winning her first career pro singles title at the W.L. Amos St. Tennis Classic in Macon, Ga., the week of Oct. 24, and reaching the semifinals at the Copperwynd Pro Women’s Challenge in Scottsdale, Ariz., the following week.
Day made her Grand Slam debut at the 2016 US Open, securing a wild card into the event by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships. In Flushing Meadows, she defeated fellow American and Top 50 player Madison Brengle in the first round before falling to No. 8 seed Madison Keys, also of the U.S., in the second round. The following week, she won the girls’ singles title and rose to No. 1 in the ITF World Junior Rankings.
Her success on the USTA Pro Circuit this fall has raised her WTA ranking to a career-best No. 195.
Day, who also reached the girls' doubles final in New York, is a lefty whose style has played well on all surfaces. Before winning the US Open girls' championship, she reached the junior semifinals at Wimbledon, the singles final at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, Fla., and the quarterfinals of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville, Va. – both clay-court events.
Day also reached the final of the prestigious Orange Bowl junior championships last December in Plantation, Fla., and helped lead the U.S. to a second-place finish on the clay in Madrid at the 2015 Junior Fed Cup finals.
The men’s Australian Open Wild Card Challenge concludes this week with the $50,000 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana in Champaign, Ill. American Michael Mmoh is currently in the lead with 87 points after winning his first USTA Pro Circuit Challenger title last week at the $50,000 Knoxville Challenger in Tennessee. Fellow teenager Reilly Opelka is in second place with 80 points, and Stefan Kozlov and Jared Donaldson are also in the running for the wild card going into Champaign.
In the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, the USTA awards a 2017 Australian Open wild card to the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of the three select USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events this fall. Only Americans who did not earn direct entry into the Australian Open are eligible.
The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2016 US Open and 2017 Australian Open are exchanged.
The 2017 Australian Open will be held Monday, Jan. 16, to Sunday, Jan. 29, in Melbourne, Australia.