December 27th, 2014
Preview: Vaidisova, Bellis Big Names in USTA Pro Circuit Daytona Beach
Future stars of the WTA tour, and some potential big-name wild cards, will come through Daytona Beach in January when the $25,000 Daytona Women’s Pro Tennis Championships, a USTA Pro Circuit event, is held Jan. 19-15, 2015 at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Florida teen Sachia Vickery of Hollywood is the lone American in the main draw as of the tournament entry cut-off, with Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito the top-ranked player entered, and some exciting potential qualifiers and wild card recipients are also in the mix.
Only two spots out of the main draw, should some players withdraw, is American Catherine “CiCi” Bellis, the world No. 1-ranked junior who upset Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova at the 2014 US Open.
She is joined in the qualifying tournament by Florida breakout teens Tornado Alicia Black and Katerina Stewart, as well as fellow Americans Sanaz Marand, Samantha Crawford, Asia Muhammad, Caitlin Whoriskey, Bernarda Pera, Laurem Embree, Tori Kinard, and former US Open National Playoffs-Florida Section winner Jan Abaza.
Receiving main draw wild card consideration will be former world No. 7 Nicole Vaidisova, ranked No. 601 as of the entry deadline, who has entered the event.
The Czech player who trained at the IMG Academy in Bradenton made a comeback at USTA Pro Circuit events late last year, roughly 12 months after recovering from another shoulder surgery. It was a return to competition after a five-year absence for the 25 year old.
Vaidisova was a French Open and Australian Open semifinalist with six career WTA tour titles to her credit. When it looked like the then-teen could challenge world No. 1 Serena Williams, her career was derailed by injuries, problems with her coach/stepfather, and a marriage and subsequent divorce with ATP player Radek Stepanek. Last year Vaidisova competed at four USTA Pro Circuit events in the September-October time span to continue her comeback in an attempt to reach the Top 75 on the WTA Rankings and regular entry again into the WTA’s top events.
The world No. 1 junior Bellis’ participation in 2015 would continue the run of current or former world No. 1 juniors in Daytona Beach, as last year saw American Taylor Townsend navigate the qualifying tournament and reach the main draw quarterfinals, upending former No. 21-ranked Aleksandra Wozniak before losing to eventual tournament champion and No. 1 seed Anna Tatishvili.
Other players on the qualifying or alternate lists this year include 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson, Ponte Vedra Beach resident and touted University of Florida freshman Josie Kuhlman, and recent Orange Bowl winner Sofia Kenin, 18, of Pembroke Pines.
The Daytona Beach $25,000 Women’s Open will also host a wild card tournament on Jan. 10-12, 2015, at The Oceans Racquet Club in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla.
The wild card tournament winner will receive automatic entry into the main draw of the Daytona Beach $25,000 Women’s Open, to be held Jan. 18-25, 2015 at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. The wild card tournament finalist, as well as the winner between the back draw champion and 3rd place finisher will receive entry into the qualifying tournament.
For more information or to enter CLICK HERE.
With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players, and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA Pro Circuit provides players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Current players Maria Sharapova, John Isner, Caroline Wozniacki, Sam Querrey, Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. For more info CLICK HERE.