McCartney Kessler wins first pro singles title on USTA Pro Circuit
McCartney Kessler won her first professional singles title on Sunday with a home triumph at the USTA Pro Circuit W60 event in Rome, Ga. A native of nearby Calhoun, Ga., the 24-year-old defeated Atlanta's Grace Min, 6-2, 6-1, to claim the title and move to a new career-high of world No. 240.
Kessler began her Rome run with a 6-2, 6-4 upset of top seed Taylor Townsend in the opening round. (Townsend, currently No. 77 in the WTA singles rankings, reached the third round at the 2023 US Open.)
Kessler lost just one set in her five wins and knocked off three seeded opponents. Her tightest match came in a quarterfinal victory against eighth seed Anastasia Tikhonova, 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6(3).
The title triumph continues a strong summer and fall campaign for the American, who competed in US Open qualifying for the first time in August and reached the final round of the play-in tournament.
Prior to her Rome result, Kessler had advanced to three previous ITF World Tennis Tour singles semifinals since June—in Wichita, Kan., Evansville, Ind., and Templeton, Calif. She also won the Templeton doubles title alongside fellow American Alana Smith at the USTA Pro Circuit W60 event.
Before turning pro, Kessler was a three-time All-American at the University of Florida. She was also honored as the 2022 SEC Player of the Year during her time in Gainesville and won over 100 singles matches throughout her collegiate career. At the junior level, Kessler won the 16-and-under doubles title at the prestigious Orange Bowl in 2015.
Australian Open Wild Card Challenge
Kessler's Rome result carries added significance for its impact in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. The title put her on pole position for a wild card into the first major of 2024 in Melbourne with a lead after the first of five weeks in the Challenge.
Min, behind her final run, is in fourth place in the standings (Top 5 listed below).
The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which main-draw wild cards for the 2024 Australian Open and US Open will be exchanged. The women's wild card will be awarded to the American with the most ranking points earned at a maximum of three tournaments during a five-week window, running through the week of Oct. 30. All indoor and outdoor hard-court and carpet events at the W25 level and above, including WTA Tour events, will be included in the Challenge.
Ranking points earned in the main draw and qualifying will be counted toward each player's Challenge point total. Should the player with the highest number of Challenge points earn direct entry into the Australian Open, the wild card will go to the next eligible American in the Challenge points standings. In the event of a tie, the player with the best singles ranking on the Monday immediately following the conclusion of the Challenge will earn the wild card. Americans who otherwise earn direct entry into the Australian Open are not eligible.
The men's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge begins the week of Oct. 23.
Women's Standings After Week 1
1. McCartney Kessler (WTA No. 240) -- 80 points
2. Jennifer Brady (222) -- 65 points
3. Iva Jovic (NR) -- 50 points
4. Grace Min (266) -- 48 points
5. Jamie Loeb (261) -- 29 points