(May 4, 2014) Former world No. 1 junior and four-time junior Grand Slam champion Taylor Townsend, 18, will make her Grand Slam main draw debut at the 2014 French Open after winning the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge on Sunday. Townsend clinched the wild card by advancing to the final at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, win over Anett Kontaveit.
Any American that did not receive direct entry into the 2014 French Open was eligible for the wild card, awarded to the man and woman who earn the most ATP/WTA ranking points at select USTA Pro Circuit clay court events. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2014 French and US Opens are exchanged.
USTA Player Development awards the women’s wild card to the player who accumulates the greatest number of WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 clay-court events—the Dothan Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala., the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., and the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.
Townsend, who is ranked No. 256 in the world, will be playing in the French Open for the first time. She competed in the junior French Open two times—reaching the singles quarterfinals in 2013 and the doubles semifinals in 2012 with Eugenie Bouchard. Townsend was the year-end ITF No. 1 junior ranking in 2012 to become the first American girl to hold that position since Gretchen Rush in 1982. Also in 2012, Townsend won the Australian Open junior singles and doubles titles, as well as the junior doubles titles at the US Open and Wimbledon. In addition, she led the U.S. to the 2012 Junior Fed Cup championship. Townsend turned pro at the start of 2013 and, in her first WTA-level main-draw match, beat then-No. 57 Lucie Hradecka in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. After playing primarily pro events early that year, she returned to the junior ranks in 2013 and reached the girls’ singles final at Wimbledon, as well as the quarterfinals at the junior French Open. This year, Townsend defeated Top 50 player Karin Knapp to reach the second round of Indian Wells as a wild card and won her first career USTA Pro Circuit titles in Charlottesville, capturing both the singles and doubles titles. Townsend is currently coached by former world No. 4 and Olympic doubles gold medalist Zina Garrison.
Former world No. 15 Robby Ginepri, 31, of Kennesaw, Ga., clinched the men’s Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge yesterday, finishing with 80 points after winning the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Tallahassee, Fla. Ginepri, who said yesterday that he was contemplating retirement this year, last competed in the French Open in 2010, where he reached the fourth round. Ginepri was one of the top Americans in the world in the mid-2000s, winning three ATP singles titles and advancing to the semifinals of the 2005 US Open. He has suffered from injuries over the past four years.
The USTA first used this wild card challenge format for its 2012 French Open wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker. Oudin and Baker each advanced to the second round at that year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100. Last year, Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers earned the wild cards with Rogers winning her first-ever Grand Slam singles match at the French Open.