Townsend claims USTA French Open wild card

May 7, 2016 09:52 PM

By Sally Milano,

Twenty-year-old Taylor Townsend of Atlanta will make her third consecutive appearance in the main draw of the French Open after clinching the 2016 USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge on Saturday.

Townsend, who also captured the wild card two years ago to make her Grand Slam debut, reached the final of the $75,000 Revolution Technologies Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., giving her at least 150 points in the wild card challenge. No other American woman can surpass her in the standings.

Townsend had impressive results in this year’s USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, also winning the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., and reaching the final at the $50,000 Hardee’s Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala.

USTA Player Development awards a French Open main-draw wild card to one American man and one American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points in a series of USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events this spring.

Bjorn Fratangelo of Pittsburgh captured the men's wild card last week and will be making his French Open main-draw debut later this month in Paris.

Ranking points from two out of the three men’s and women’s events are used and combined to calculate the point total and determine the French Open wild-card recipient. Only players who have not earned direct acceptance into Roland Garros are eligible for the wild card.

Click here to see the 2016 USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge standings.

Townsend, who was a world-ranked Top 100 player as recently as last year, is currently ranked No. 208 in the world. She also won the 2014 USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge and had an impressive run to the third round that included a win over No. 20 seed Alize Cornet.

Townsend also competed in the French Open last year. She 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 in Indian Wells. She followed that up with an impressive run to the third round of the 2014 French Open. She went on to compete at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2014 and the Australian Open and French Open in 2015.

Also in 2015, Townsend made her Fed Cup debut in the World Group II First Round in Argentina, where she played doubles. In addition to her USTA Pro Circuit singles title in Charlottesville this year, she has won five USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles in 2016 with Asia Muhammad.

Townsend is a former junior standout, clinching 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. She ascended to No. 1 by winning the Australian Open junior singles and doubles titles, as well as the junior doubles titles at the US Open and Wimbledon. Also in 2012, she led the U.S. to the Junior Fed Cup championship.

The USTA first used the 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. In 2013, Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers earned the wild cards, with Rogers winning her first-ever Grand Slam singles match at the French Open. In 2014, Townsend and veteran Robby Ginepri received the wild cards. And last year, teenagers Frances Tiafoe and Louisa Chirico secured the wild cards.