2014/04/23

BNP Paribas Open Names Wildcards – Includes Nalbandian, Blake and Date-Krumm

(February 27, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, Calif., – Former top-five players David Nalbandian, Tommy Robredo, James Blake and Kimiko Date-Krumm; Americans Tim Smyczek, Steve Johnson, Madison Keys, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Maria Sanchez, Melanie Oudin and Taylor Townsend; and Shahar Peer and Kristina Mladenovic were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 4 – 17 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Steve Simon, tournament director.

David Nalbandian has won 11 ATP World Tour titles since turning professional in 2000 and reached the 2002 Wimbledon finals in his first appearance at the event. The Argentine and former World No. 3 will be making his tenth appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. Last year in Indian Wells, Nalbandian equaled his best result, reaching the quarterfinals for the second time in his career.

Former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo is continuing his comeback to the ATP World Tour after an injury derailed much of his 2012 season. The Spaniard has won 10 career titles and has reached five Grand Slam quarterfinals. American James Blake, former World No. 4, also has 10 career titles and defeated then-World No. 2 Rafael Nadal to reach the 2006 BNP Paribas Open finals. Kimiko Date-Krumm turned pro in 1989 and is currently the oldest player in the top 100 at 43 years old. The former World No. 4 has eight career singles titles and four doubles titles, including one in 2013 at Pattaya City.

In addition to Blake, seven other Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including two-time NCAA Champion from USC Steve Johnson, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open; Milwaukee native Tim Smyczek, who is at a career-high ranking just outside the top 100 and pushed World No. 4 David Ferrer to four sets at the 2013 Australian Open; 19-year-old breakout star Madison Keys, who has already defeated five top-50 players in 2013 and cracked the top 80 earlier this month; WTA veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won the 2012 Australian Open Mixed Doubles title; another USC standout – Maria Sanchez, who is at a career-high ranking after jumping 560 ranking places in 2012 – more than any other player in the WTA; Georgia native Melanie Oudin captured her first WTA title last year in Birmingham (UK); and 17-year-old Taylor Townsend, who turned professional in 2012 after reaching the top of the junior rankings earlier that year.

Two other international players receiving main draw wildcards are Israeli Shahar Peer, who was a BNP Paribas Open quarterfinalist in 2007 and 2011 and reached a career-high ranking of No. 11 and French teenager Kristina Mladenovic, who is at a career-high ranking after defeating three top-25 players to reach the Paris semifinals earlier this year.

“This year’s main draw wildcards span from seasoned veterans, to rising American and international stars to those returning from injury,” said Simon. “Awarding wildcards to players like David Nalbandian, James Blake, Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend add to the allure of early-round matches for fans and provide the potential for these deserving athletes to break through and make a move up their respective Tour’s rankings.

Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Christian Harrison, Jack Sock, Rhyne Williams, Dennis Novikov, Grace Min, Jessica Pegula and Irina Falconi, German Andrea Petkovic and Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic.

Harrison, the 18-year-old younger brother of American No. 6 Ryan Harrison, reached the quarterfinals in doubles with his brother at the 2012 US Open and is making his debut to the BNP Paribas Open. Sock is at a career-high ranking after reaching his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal in Memphis earlier this month. Williams, a former University of Tennessee standout, is also at a career-high ranking after capturing the ATP Challenger tour title in Dallas. Novikov, who won the 2012 BNP Paribas Open pre-qualifying tournament, is now a sophomore playing at UCLA and won the 2012 USTA Boys Championships in Kalamazoo. Min won the 2011 US Open Junior Championship and three ITF titles in 2012. Pegula won two matches in the qualifying tournament to reach the 2012 BNP Paribas Open main draw. Falconi cracked the WTA top 100 in 2011 and has won 4 ITF singles titles.

Petkovic is a former World No. 9 and has reached the quarterfinals in every Grand Slam. She is returning to tennis after a series of injuries kept her from competing consistently for more than a year. Tomljanovic has three ITF singles and 3 ITF doubles titles.

In addition to the aforementioned qualifying wildcards, the winners of each pre-qualifying tournament, which takes place February 25 – March 2, will also be granted a berth into the 2013 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. Women’s qualifying starts March 4 and men’s qualifying begins March 5 at 10:00am.

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Former USC Standout Maria Sanchez Signs with Agent Atleta

Agent Atleta Ltd. has announced the signing of former USC All-American Maria Sanchez to an agency agreement.  Sanchez recently entered the pro ranks following a  college career where she rose from the No. 5 player on the Trojans to the No. 1 player in the country.  This past season she won the National Indoors and was named the ITA Senior College Player of The Year.

 

Agent Atleta’s Jordan J. Butler will represent Sanchez.  “I am honored and thrilled to represent Maria as she embarks on her promising pro career,” Mr. Butler said.  “She is a proven winner and has a very high ceiling due to her superior athletic ability and competitive nature.  Maria is also a well-rounded individual and a great person off the court.”

 

Sanchez, who currently trains at the USTA Training Center – West in Carson, Calif., was selected last week to replace Lindsay Davenport in World Team Tennis for the St. Louis Aces.  She has helped lead the Aces to first place in the Western Conference, and is undefeated in eight matches with fellow American Liezel Huber.  The pair has teamed up to defeat the likes of Martina Hingis, Lisa Raymond and Vania King.  Sanchez will resume tournament play following her final WTT match tonight against the Washington Kastles.

 

Sanchez was a two-sport star in high school on the tennis and basketball courts at Davis High in Modesto, Calif.  She speaks fluent Spanish, having spent time in Mexico as a child where she was introduced to tennis at age 10.  Sanchez graduated from USC with a degree in real estate and a minor in business.

 

Follow Sanchez on Twitter @MariaVS10.

 

About Agent Atleta Ltd.

 

Agent Atleta Ltd. is an athlete management company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, emphasizing comprehensive representation of professional tennis players.  Agent Atleta literally means “Athlete Agent,” the technically correct term for “sports agent,” as the agent represents the athlete as opposed to the sport.  Agent Atleta’s founder and president, Jordan J. Butler, is a certified athlete agent, licensed attorney, and a member of the Sports Lawyers Association.  Agent Atleta also counts Varvara Lepchenko and Julia Cohen amongst its clients.

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