The top players in the world aren’t the only ones who have booked their places in the main draws of the 2014 US Open.
Four of the 16 wild cards available for the US Open singles draws have already been claimed, three this past weekend, through the results of the USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge (champions Nicole Gibbs and Wayne Odesnik) and the USTA Boys’ 18s and Girls’ 18s National Championships (winners Noah Rubin and CiCi Bellis).
Gibbs earned her wild card two weeks ago, securing her spot by totaling more WTA ranking points than any other American at two of three select USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events. Gibbs qualified by winning the $50,000 event in Carson, Calif., and reaching the final at the $50,000 event in Louisville, Ky. This will be the third consecutive year that Gibbs, the 2012 and 2013 NCAA champion while at Stanford, has played in the women’s singles main draw.
Odesnik won the men’s wild card challenge by virtue of earning the most ATP ranking points in two of four USTA Pro Circuit events. He reached the final at the $50,000 Challenger in Binghamton, N.Y., and the semifinals at the $50,000 Challenger in Lexington. This will be Odesnik’s sixth trip to the US Open men’s singles main draw, though his first since 2009. He advanced to the second round in 2007 and 2008.
In the junior ranks, Rubin and Bellis won the USTA Boys’ 18s and USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships this past weekend and will be appearing in a Grand Slam main draw for the first time.
Rubin, the 2014 Wimbledon boys’ singles champion, defeated Francis Tiafoe and Michael Mmoh, Nos. 7 and 12 in the ITF world junior rankings, respectively, to advance to the final, where he topped defending champion Collin Altamirano, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, to capture the title. Rubin trains at John McEnroe’s academy in New York and has committed to play at Wake Forest in the fall. He will be attempting to become the third USTA Boys’ 18s champion to win his opening-round match at the US Open in the last four years, joining Jack Sock (2011) and Dennis Novikov (2012).
Bellis, meantime, will be bidding to become the third USTA Girls’ 18s champion to advance to the second round in the last six years, joining Christina McHale (2009) and Sachia Vickery (2013). The 15-year-old Californian won her title by defeating 2013 US Open girls’ singles finalist, Tornado Ali Black, 6-3, 6-1, in the process becoming the youngest USTA Girls’ 18s winner since 15-year-old Lindsay Davenport in 1991. Earlier this year, Bellis won the International Spring Championships and Easter Bowl in back-to-back weeks. She currently is No. 2 in the ITF world junior rankings.