Pro Circuit Round-up
Townsend wins AO Challenge
Pat Mitsch | November 13, 2017
Taylor Townsend performed so well while competing for a main draw wild card into the 2018 Australian Open that in earning it, she very well may not need it.
The 21-year old Chicago native and former junior world No. 1 clinched the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge presented by the USTA by winning the singles title at the $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Waco, Texas, on Sunday, defeating Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, in the final.
Townsend’s victory – her third USTA Pro Circuit singles title in the last month – also elevated her ranking to No. 97, which is likely to gain her direct entry into the main draw in Melbourne . That’s a significant feat, considering her ranking had dropped to No. 132 following the US Open in September.
"My coach and I set a goal after the US Open. He said, 'We're just going to chip away and try to get you into Australia by yourself,' " Townsend said after Sunday’s match. "And I did that, so I'm really, really pleased. I'm going to enjoy it for the next couple of days, then be focused and get ready for the off-season so I can be prepared to do well there."
Should Townsend indeed earn direct entry Down Under, the Challenge’s wild card would go to second-place finisher Kristie Ahn, who earned 116 points compared to Townsend’s 136. Ahn, the 25-year old Stanford University product who earned 115 points by winning the singles title at the $80,000 event in Tyler, Texas, two weeks ago, is ranked No. 112.
The men’s side of the Wild Card Challenge will crescendo this week with the USTA Pro Circuit $75,000 Challenger in Champaign, Ill., after Denis Kudla outpaced every other American at last week’s $75,000 Challenger in Knoxville, Tenn. Kudla moved into second place in the Challenge, behind leader Tim Smyczek, but isn’t playing anywhere this week, leaving the results in Champaign to decide who gets the wild card into Melbourne.
Michael Mmoh, Bradley Klahn, Bjorn Fratangelo, Alex Sarkissian and Taylor Fritz are the only players who can overtake Smyczek, but each of them would have to win the singles title in Champaign to do so. Should Smyczek reach the final there, he would clinch the wild card.
Other highlights from the USTA Pro Circuit for the week of Nov. 6:
- Eighteen-year old Sofia Kenin, the Pembroke Pines, Fla., product who earned praise for her performance in a third-round loss to Maria Sharapova at the US Open, won the doubles title and reached the singles semis at the $80,000 event in Waco, her second-straight semifinal appearance on the Pro Circuit. The Waco event saw plenty of American success, with Danielle Lao and Kayla Day each advancing to the quarterfinals, while Townsend and Jessica Pegulia were doubles finalists.
- Fifteen-year old Naomi Cheong swung her way into the singles quarters at the $100,000 event in Tokyo.
- Arizona State alumna Jacqueline Cako won her second Pro Circuit-level doubles title of the year, at the $100,000 event in Shenzhen, China.
- Anastasia Nefedova reached the singles final at a $15,000 event in Cucuta, Colombia.
- The Knoxville Challenger saw Bradley Klahn reach the semifinals, his third semifinal-or-better showing in his last four Challenger events. Klahn, the 2010 NCAA champion at Stanford, heads to Champaign, where one year ago he played his first competitive event in nearly two years after recovering from back surgery. Fratangelo, Smyczek and Fritz also all reached the quarters in Knoxville.
- The $15,000 Futures in Niceville, Fla., proved true to its locale’s name for American men last week, as reigning USTA Boys’ 18s national champion Patrick Kypson beat former Florida standout Sekou Bangoura for the singles title.
- Twenty five-year old Robert Galloway, who played his college tennis at Wofford, won his third Futures-level doubles title of 2017 at a $15,000 event in Kuwait.