Shelby Rogers and Alex Kuznetsov Headed to Roland Garros With USTA Wild Cards
Two East Coasters are headed to Roland Garros as USTA Wild Cards. Charleston’s Shelby Rogers won the Women’s Wild Card by winning the Charlottesvile Challenger and making the quarters in Dothan. Richboro, Pennsylvania native and current Tampa resident Alex Kuznetsov won in Sarasota and made the quarters in Tallahassee and Savannah. They spoke with members of the press (and with me as well) during a USTA Conference call this afternoon.
Neither player admitted to changing their game over the last month. For Kuznetsov, it’s his first trip to Roland Garros since being a junior finalist at the French Open all the way back in 2004, when he lost to Gaels Monfils. For Rogers, it’s her first trip to Paris…ever.
“Honestly, to think I guess it’s been almost 10 years that this will be my first French Open main draw, I would have said I’d liked to have been in a couple before now.”, Kuznetsov said.
Kuznetsov is headed to Nice, while Rogers will play in St. Gaudens.
Both players went on an April run to take the wild cards, as neither player had a won a match in months prior to the USTA Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge, which featured three separate tournaments for the men and the women.
‘I hadn’t won a round since November of last year’, said Rogers, who grew up on the green clay in Mount Pleasant, S.C., in the shadow of the Family Circle Cup Tennis Center.
Rogers first stop in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, “but hopefully to stay on the red clay as long as I can”.
Rogers has no regrets for turning pro instead of entering college.
It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I can always take classes, but I can’t always play on tour.
Both grew up on clay and were extensively trained on Har-Tru. Both would like to see more Har-Tru tournament opportunities in the U.S., especially Kuznetsov.
I would be for it, but I also think being that our main Grand Slam is on hard court, there also needs to be obviously an equal amount of hard court tournaments. Like Shelby, I also grew up playing on clay on the East Coast. I played at a club in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, which had indoor red clay. I think it’s a good surface to start younger kids on. I think they develop better on a clay court than they would a hard court. But, yeah, I’d also be for it if they had a few more events. But I’d like for them to keep some hard court tournaments, as well.
Do they like the round-robin format as opposed to a direct playoff?
Rogers was emphatic. “I think it’s a great way. It shows the players who can be consistent rather than over a weekend or a week. You have to bring your game throughout the whole three weeks.”
Kuznetsov clearly prefers the round-robin format as well, and implied that he may have been cut out of the Australian Open Wild Card field last December somewhat arbitrarily.
I think they chose the players they wanted in that one. I think this is an opportunity for the player who is playing the best tennis at the time. You’re also competing against players from different countries, so you’re not only competing against Americans. Obviously there’s players from South America and from Europe who grew up playing on clay, so they have a lot of experience. You deserve the wild card if you’re able to do that.