CHARLOTTESVILLE, November 17, 2015
Samantha Crawford, 20, of Tamarac, Fla., has earned a berth in the main draw of the 2016 Australian Open after clinching the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challengetoday after rain halted play yesterday. This will mark Crawford’s first appearance in a Grand Slam main draw outside the United States.
Crawford, who also earned a wild card into the 2015 US Open by winning the USTA Pro Circuit’s US Open Wild Card Challenge, secured the Australian Open berth by winning the $50,000 Copperwynd Pro Women’s Challenge in Scottsdale, Ariz. She defeated Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, in the final and earned 80 points for the victory, enough for her second consecutive Grand Slam main draw showing. Scottsdale was Crawford’s first career singles professional title and boosted her ranking to a career-high No. 155 in the world.
While her appearance in the Australian Open may be a first, Crawford has enjoyed previous Grand Slam success. In 2012, she won the US Open girls’ singles title and also qualified for the women’s singles main draw as a qualifying wild card. She has also competed in the US Open women’s doubles draw three times (2011-12, 2014). At 6-foot-2, Crawford’s big serve and aggressive baseline game helped her rise to No. 5 in the ITF World Junior Rankings in 2012. This year, Crawford advanced to four USTA Pro Circuit singles finals (including Scottsdale) and won two USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles, giving her five doubles titles for her career.
The men’s USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge concludes this week with the US-$50,000 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana in Champaign, Ill., with a number of young Americans in the race. Noah Rubin remains in the lead with 80 points after capturing his first career USTA Pro Circuit title earlier this month at the $50,000 Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger in Charlottesville, Va. Frances Tiafoe is in second place with 55 points after reaching the final at the $50,000 Knoxville Challenger in Knoxville, Tenn., this past weekend. Tommy Paul, who lost to Rubin in the Charlottesville final, is in third place with 48 points. Rubin lost to No. 1 seed Malek Jaziri in the first round in Champaign.
In the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, the USTA awards a 2016 Australian Open wild card to the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of the three select USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events this fall. Only Americans who did not earn direct entry into the Australian Open are eligible. The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2015 US Open and 2016 Australian Open are exchanged. In the event of a tie, the player with the best ATP or WTA singles ranking will be awarded the wild card. The 2016 Australian Open main draw will be held Monday, Jan. 18, to Sunday, Jan. 31.
The USTA first used this wild card format in 2012 to award wild cards into the French Open and US Open and has been doing so ever since. Last year, Irina Falconi and Denis Kudla earned wild cards into the Australian Open by winning this wild card challenge. This year, teenagers Tiafoe andLouisa Chirico each won the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge for wild cards into the French Open, and Crawford and Bjorn Fratangelo earned US Open wild cards by winning the US Open Wild Card Challenge this summer.
Complete standings and information about the wild card challenge can be found on www.procircuit.usta.com.
The standings, as of Nov. 16, are as follows: