Junior Tennis Champions Center alum Denis Kudla and the Washington Kastles Bobby Reynolds will compete against six other Americans for an automatic berth in the Australian Open main draw next month. Kudla and Reynolds will play at the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs at Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, Georgia from December 16-18. Other participants on the men’s side include Kalamazoo champ Jack Sock, Robby Ginepri, Steve Johnson, Jesse Levine, Daniel Kosakowski and Rhyne Williams.
Reynolds, who defeated Kosakowski in straight sets to win the 2011 US Open Wild Card Playoffs in College Park this past August, will likely be the #1 seed and a strong favorite to advance to Melbourne. Alright, alright, we know. Reynolds is really a Georgia native who was only adopted by the DC area for his outstanding play on the 16-0 Kastles championship team. He was a crowd favorite in College Park and will be a crowd fave in Norcross. And we’ll root for Denis and Bobby, hoping for a seeding that could provide for the Kudla-Reynolds final we never got in Maryland at the US Open Wild Cards.
The indoor event also features 2011 US Open Women’s Wild Card Champion Madison Keys, Pittsburgh native Alison Riske, Gail Brodsky, Jamie Hampton, Coco Vandeweghe, Grace Min, Taylor Townsend and Melanie Oudin. While Oudin will be the favorite, anyone who witnessed Madison Keys dramatic run through the US Open Wild Card Playoffs all the way into the third round at Flushing Meadows will be hard-pressed to bet against Keys.
Of all the tennis tournaments we’ve attended as fans or media, none is more exciting than a Wild Card Playoff. It’s compact in more ways than one. Any time the first round is a quarterfinal, the stakes are high in every match. It’s also a fan-friendly, intimate event where the players are extremely approachable and front row tickets are a relative bargain in the sporting world. Quite frankly, it is the best thing that the USTA has ever done.
Melbourne is a long haul. Skip the 26 hour flight and see some Australian Open qualifying right here on the East Coast instead. Tickets are available at australianwildcard.com.