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Pro Circuit players to compete for Australian Open wild cards

Samantha Crawford in action at the 2016 Australian Open
October 24, 2016 01:10 PM

By Sally Milano, USTA.com

The new year is going to kick off on a high note for two USTA Pro Circuit players, who will earn wild cards to compete in the main draw of the 2017 Australian Open in Melbourne in January.

For the third straight year, American players competing on the USTA Pro Circuit have the opportunity to earn wild cards into the men's and women's singles draws of the year's first Grand Slam via the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, a series of tournaments taking place this fall on the USTA Pro Circuit.

The players who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of three select USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events that comprise the challenge will earn the wild cards into the 2017 Australian Open. Only Americans who do not earn direct entry into the Australian Open are eligible.

The challenge kicks off this week for the women at the $50,000 W.L. Amos Sr. Tennis Classic in Macon, Ga., followed by the $50,000 Copperwynd Pro Women’s Challenge in Scottsdale, Ariz., the week of Oct. 31, and the Bush’s $50,000 Waco Showdown in Waco, Texas, the week of Nov. 7.

The men’s challenge gets underway next week at the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger in Charlottesville, Va., then moves to the Knoxville 2016 Challenger in Knoxville, Tenn., the week of Nov. 7, and concludes with the JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana in Champaign, Ill., the week of Nov. 14.

All six tournaments will be streamed live on www.procircuit.usta.com. The events can also be followed on the USTA Pro Circuit’s smartphone app by searching “procircuit” in the app store, and information on the US Open Wild Card Challenge can be found on Twitter through @USTAProCircuit.

The USTA first used the 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, Noah Rubin and Samantha Crawford (pictured above) earned wild cards into the Australian Open by winning the challenge. This year, former top junior players Taylor Townsend and Bjorn Fratangelo earned wild cards into the French Open, and Sofia Kenin and Ernesto Escobedo claimed the wild cards into the US Open.

The 2017 Australian Open will take place Monday, Jan. 16, to Sunday, Jan. 29.