SUMMERLIN, November 4, 2018 (by Steve Pratt)
Four former Red Rock Pro Open singles champions join a former Top 10 player as the 10th anniversary of the annual $80,000 Women’s USTA Pro Circuit event kicks off with opening rounds of qualifying at the Red Rock Country Club beginning on Sunday, November 4.
Las Vegas tennis fans will recall names like 2010 winner Varvara Lepchenko, 2012 victor Lauren Davis, 2014 champion Madison Brengle, and last year’s champion, Sesil Karatantcheva.
The 21-year-old Bencic is currently ranked No. 39 in the world and is a former French Open and Wimbledon junior champion. Bencic advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open in 2014. She is the highest ranked entrant in the tournament’s decade-long history, and will be the top seed in Las Vegas.
Popular British star Heather Watson, who boasts over 90,000 followers on Instagram, and has been ranked as high as No. 38 in the world, will also be among the top seeds.
Brengle’s title in 2014 helped launch her into the world’s Top 100. She returns to Red Rock four years later after some notable successes on the WTA Tour, including a Round of 16 appearance at the 2015 Australian Open.
This year marks the first time the tournament has been included as part of the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, a series of Pro Circuit events which awards a main draw wild card to the American player who earns the most cumulative ranking points in three out of four tournaments.
American Varvara Lepchenko currently leads the Challenge race after capturing the Mercer Tennis Classic in Macon, Ga., on Sunday, another $80,000 event like Las Vegas. Lepchenko currently sits at No. 130 in the world and will likely be seeded when the main draw event begins on Tuesday.
The remaining women’s events that are part of the challenge include: Tyler, Texas ($80,000) this week, Las Vegas, and a WTA $125,000 Series event in Houston the week of Nov. 12. The 2019 Australian Open will be held January 14-27.
Former Stanford University players Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn will join fellow Americans Christina McHale, Allie Kiick, Danielle Lao and longtime Las Vegas standout Asia Muhammad in the main draw. Muhammad captured the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge earlier this summer, and saw her first main draw action at a Grand Slam in New York.
Davis, 25, has been awarded a wild card into the main draw. She reached a career-high of No. 26 as recently in May of last year, and held match points against world No. 1 Simona Halep in the third round at the Australian Open in January. Her ranking has since fallen to No. 264.
For a complete list of Red Rock Pro Open past singles champions, take a trip down Memory Lane here.
In addition, last year’s champion Karatantcheva will see qualifying action with a No. 231 world ranking. Other qualifying wild card include: UNLV’s No. 1 player Aiwen Zhu, and current high school students Audrey Boch-Collins of Las Vegas and Alycia Parks of Florida.
Zhu was named All-Mountain West Conference her first three years and was the conference Player of the Year for 2018. Boch-Collins is a two-time defending Class 4A Nevada state singles champion who attends Odyssey Charter Schools and plays high school tennis for Clark. She earned her way into qualifying by winning the Mike Agassi No Quit Championships National Level 3 Tournament. Parks is just 17 and has a world ranking within the Top 1,000 on the WTA Tour and was first on the qualifying alternate list.
The Sunrise Children’s Hospital Kids’ Day powered by Net Generation will take place on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. The Char Luxury Tournament Party will be held Monday, Nov. 5 and the Storage One Pro Am on Tuesday, Nov. 6.