USTA Press Release, December 18, 2018
Stanford sophomore Michaela Gordon and TCU senior Alex Rybakov each earned a spot in the main draw of a 2019 USTA Pro Circuit tournament by winning the Blizzard Wild Card Challenge for American college players on Tuesday at the USTA National Campus.
Rybakov, of Coral Springs, Fla., beat USC junior Brandon Holt, 6-2, 6-1, to earn a main draw wild card into the Orlando Open, the first Challenger on the USTA Pro Circuit of 2019. An ATP Challenger 80 event offering more than $54,000 in total prize money, the Orlando Open will take place Dec. 31-Jan. 6 at the National Campus.
Gordon, of Saratoga, Calif., beat Duke sophomore Kelly Chen, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0, to earn a main draw wild card into a USTA Pro Circuit $60,000 women’s event to be determined.
The wild card opportunities come as the entry levels of the professional tennis landscape shift beginning in 2019, to which the USTA has responded by expanding its results-based wild-card allocation structure for Americans at all levels.
“It’s a great opportunity for us with how the new (professional) rankings work to get a shot to play in a Challenger,” Rybakov said. “That’s a huge opportunity.”
The pair also earn positions on the 2019 USTA Collegiate National Team, which offers travel assistance to professional tournaments and USTA Player Development coaching for top-performing American collegians.
“It was amazing playing against all of the other top Americans in college tennis. I had a lot of fun playing against everyone because we’re all friends,” Gordon said. “They were fun matches. I’m really glad we were able to play this especially since there aren’t a lot of events during winter break and this is such a high level.”
Click here for full results from each eight-player tournament.
Rybakov, 21, was a doubles All-American in 2018 and a singles All-American the year before. As a junior player, he was ranked as high as No. 14 in the world and defeated now-Top 30 pro Denis Shapovalov en route to the 2015 US Open boys’ quarterfinals.
As a freshman, Gordon was an All-American and the ITA’s National Rookie of the Year for the NCAA champion Cardinal. She was a standout junior player, having reached the Wimbledon girls’ quarterfinals in 2014-15.