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Resurgent Taylor Dent, NCAA Champion Devin Britton, USTA Boys’ 18s National Champion Chase Buchanan Among US Open Wild Card Recipients

FLUSHING, N.Y., August 19, 2009 – The USTA announced today that a talented group of Americans consisting of Devin Britton (Jackson, Miss.),Chase Buchanan (New Albany, Ohio),Taylor Dent (Newport Beach, Calif.),Brendan Evans (Key Biscayne, Fla.), Jesse Levine (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Rajeev Ram (Carmel, Ind.), along with two international players including Australian Chris Guccione and a player to be named by the French Tennis Association, have been awarded men’s singles main draw wild card entries into the 2009 US Open Tennis Championships.  The 2009 US Open will be played August 31 – September 13 at the USTA Billie Jean King NationalTennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

Both the men’s and women’s US Open singles champions will earn $1.6 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money (for a total potential payout of $2.6 million) based on their performance in the 2009 Olympus US Open Series.  In addition, both US Open singles champions will receive a new 2010 Lexus IS Convertible.

Britton, 18, of Jackson, Miss., burst onto the tennis scene by reaching the 2008 US Open boys’ final as a qualifier.  After winning the doubles title at the Dunlop Orange Bowl in December, he enrolled at the University of Mississippi, where in May he became the youngest man ever to win the NCAA Division I singles title.  Britton then returned to junior competition this summer, sweeping the singles and doubles titles at Roehampton, a Wimbledon warm-up, and then advancing to the semifinals of the Wimbledon juniors.  He is currently No. 14 in the ITF World Junior Rankings.

Buchanan, 18, of New Albany, Ohio, earned his wild card into the 2009 US Open main draw by winning the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships on Sunday.  Last year, he won the Easter Bowl singles title and the USTA Boys’ 18s doubles title (earning a wild card into the 2008 US Open men’s doubles main draw with partner Ryan Harrison), and peaked at No. 6 in the ITF World Junior Rankings after reaching the singles quarterfinals and the doubles final at the Dunlop Orange Bowl.  Buchanan went 17-7 (11-4 in singles) to help lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to the 2009 NCAA team final as a freshman.

Dent, 28, of Newport Beach, Calif., returned to the ATP World Tour briefly in 2008 after three back surgeries that forced him to miss two years and nearly ended his career.  This year, he played in the main draw at the 2009 Australian Open, advanced to the fourth round in Miami and qualified for Wimbledon.  Dent finished in the year-end Top 35 every year from 2003-05 and climbed to a career-high No. 21 in 2005.  He advanced to the bronze medal match at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and was a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team and reached the round of 16 at the US Open in 2003.

Evans, 23, of Key Biscayne, Fla., is currently ranked a career-high No. 122.  He recently reached the quarterfinals at the ATP World Tour event in Newport, R.I.  Also this year, Evans has won Challengers in Noumea, New Caledonia, and Nottingham, England, and he reached the final at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Dallas and qualified for the ATP World Tour event in Indian Wells.  In 2004, Evans and fellow American Scott Oudsema teamed to win three of the four Grand Slam junior doubles titles, including the US Open.

Levine, 21, of Boca Raton, Fla., broke into the Top 100 earlier this year and is currently ranked No. 112.  He had his best Grand Slam showing at Wimbledon this summer, upsetting 14th-seeded Marat Safin and reaching the third round as a qualifier.  In 2008, Levine was a quarterfinalist at Pilot Pen in New Haven,Conn., an Olympus US Open Series event, and reached the second round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.  He played one year of college tennis, going 24-1 as a freshman at the University of Florida in 2007

Ram, 25, of Carmel, Ind., is currently ranked No. 121.  He won his first ATP World Tour title this summer at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, in Newport, R.I., after receiving a “lucky loser” spot into the main draw, defeating Sam Querrey in the final and also winning the doubles title.  On the USTA Pro Circuit, he has won 20 doubles titles and two singles titles.  Ram played one semester at the University of Illinois in 2003 and won the NCAA doubles title.

Guccione, 24, of Australia, is ranked No. 124 and received his wild card through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia, which will grant a men’s main draw wild card into the 2010 Australian Open to a player designated by the USTA.  On this year’s USTA Pro Circuit, he swept the singles and doubles titles at the $75,000 Challenger event in Aptos, Calif.

An eighth player will also receive a main draw wild card through a reciprocal agreement with the French Tennis Federation, which granted a men’s draw wild card at the 2009 French Open to John Isner. (Isner was forced to withdraw due to illness.)

In addition to the eight US Open men’s singles main draw wild cards, the USTA also announced the nine men who have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which will be held August 25-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Players receiving US Open qualifying wild cards are: Lester Cook (25, Sherman Oaks, Calif.), 2008 US Open boys’ singles champion Grigor Dimitrov (18, Bulgaria), Alexander Domijan (17, Wesley Chapel, Fla.), Ryan Harrison (17, Bradenton, Fla.), Scoville Jenkins (turns 23 on Sunday, Atlanta), 2009 USTA Boys’ 18s runner-up Ryan Lipman (18, Nashville, Tenn.), Tim Smyczek (21, Milwaukee, Wis.), Blake Strode (22, St. Louis) and Michael Venus (21, Orlando, Fla.).  Strode and Venus are both members of the 2009 USTA Summer Collegiate Team.

The 2009 US Open will be held Monday, August 31 through Sunday, September 13.  Tickets for the 2009 US Open can be purchased four ways: 1) at usopen.org; 2) by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866­OPEN-TIX; 3) at all Ticketmaster outlets; or 4) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center box office.  American Express is the Official Card of the US Open.

In Indy: This Week in Tennis Business

  • Based on nationwide voting, the USTA announced that Independence, Kan., Midland, Mich., and Ojai, Calif., have been named finalists for America’s “Best Tennis Town.” The winning town will be announced during the 2009 US Open and will receive a $100,000 grant for community tennis programs and facility improvements. The second and third place winners will receive $50,000 and $25,000, respectively.
  • The USTA announced that IBM, the “Official Information Technology Solution Provider” of the US Open, has renewed its sponsorship with the tournament. The multi-year deal will allow IBM to continue maintaining USOpen.org through 2012. In 2008, the tournament’s website was visited 39 million times, a 33-percent increase from the previous year.
  • The USTA will partner with T&S Events to host its 2010 Australian Open wild card playoffs at the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, Ga., December 4-7. This event will include an exhibition match featuring the No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, as well as Mardy Fish and John Isner. Participants for the playoff will be announced at the completion of the US Open in September.
  • Bob and Mike Bryan will begin using Luxilon’s Big Banger ALU Power Rough 125 strings, after signing an exclusive contract with the Belgian-based tennis string company.
  • After three years without a title sponsor, The Indianapolis Tennis Championships “will not be able to do it (again) without a title sponsor,” Tournament Director Kevin Martin told the Indianapolis Star. In recent months, tournament officials have been seeking a company to becoming the event’s major sponsor. “I feel more confident today than I did two months ago because of the progress we’ve made in the discussions,” Martin said.
  • Former top 10 player Tim Mayotte has been hired as a national coach for the USTA Player Development program and will be based in Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Rising American tennis player Jordan Cox from Duluth, Ga., has signed with IMG Tennis.
  • Former top-ranked Australian and World No. 35 Nicole Pratt has been appointed the national women’s coach at Tennis Australia.
  • The USTA has announced that three tennis facilities in the Chicago area will make up new locations for the USTA Regional Training Center. In December, tennis facilities in Atlanta and Maryland were named the first two certified USTA Regional Training Centers.
  • The sixth season of the Olympus US Open Series got underway last week with American Robby Ginepri capturing his third career ATP title by defeating fellow American Sam Querrey at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. Throughout the US Open Series, players will compete for more than $30 million dollars in prize money in the six-week North American hard court season leading up to the US Open, which begins August 31. ESPN2, CBS and Tennis Channel will air more than 200 hours of US Open Series matches.
  • The United States Professional Tennis Association’s (USPTA) Tennis Buying Show will be held on September 24, in Marco Island, Fla., at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club and Spa. More than 1,500 tennis industry representatives are expected to attend the event.
  • Advanta World Team Tennis officials issued fines to the New York Sportimes and Washington Kastles for unprofessional conduct of several players during a recent match. Individuals were also handed to New York’s Robert Kendrick and Washington’s Olga Puchkova.
  • The US Open, along with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, announced that more than 700 temporary food service job opportunities will be available during the 2009 tournament. The full-time but temporary positions run from August 24 to September 13 and workers will earn $8 an hour plus overtime, as well as the opportunity to secure a year-round job when the tournament concludes.
  • 63-year-old Ray Ruffels has left his coaching position at the USTA National Training Center in Carson, Calif., to return home to Australia to coach top teenager prospects in the Australia Institute of Sport Pro Tour Program. Ruffels, a major influence in the careers of former top-ranked doubles players Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, starts his new job next month.
  • Earlier this month, the International Tennis Federation announced that future Davis Cup finals must be held in major cities. The ruling was made after Argentina’s use of Islas Malvinas Stadium in Mar del Plata last November’s tie with Spain did not meet capacity requirements.