Kayla Day Headed To Main Draw At Australian Open

At this time of year it would be appropriate to say that Kayla Day is thankful for the USTA Pro Circuit after winning the organization’s Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. But it was the hard work Day put in on the court, and the results that followed that will send her Down Under for the first time when she plays in the main draw of the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

Santa Barbara’s Day, 17, clinched the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge and secured the Australian Open berth by winning the W.L. Amos St. Tennis Classic in Macon, Ga., three weeks ago and reaching the semifinals at the Copperwynd Pro Women’s Challenge in Scottsdale, Ariz., two weeks ago. Grace Min, the only player who could surpass Day, lost in the final at the $50,000 Waco Showdown in Waco, Texas, and could not gain enough points to earn the wild card. Macon was Day’s first career singles professional title and she is currently ranked a career-high No. 195 in the world.

September 7, 2016 - Kayla Day in action against Shelly Krolitzky during the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.

Kayla Day in action during the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.

Day also earned a wild card into the 2016 US Open by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships. She will be making her second consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearance after competing in the 2016 US Open as a wild card, where she won her first round match. Day then went on to win the US Open girls’ singles title this September in New York and shot to No. 1 in the world junior rankings. Day is a lefty whose style has played well on all surfaces. Prior to her title on the hard courts in New York, she reached the junior semifinals at Wimbledon, the singles final at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, Fla., and the quarterfinals of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville, Va., in April – both clay-court events. Day also reached the final of the prestigious Orange Bowl junior championships last December in Plantation, Fla., and helped lead the U.S. to a second-place finish on the clay in Madrid at the 2015 Junior Fed Cup finals.

In the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, the USTA awards a 2017 Australian Open wild card to the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of the three select USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events this fall. Only Americans who did not earn direct entry into the Australian Open are eligible. The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2016 US Open and 2017 Australian Open are exchanged. In the event of a tie, the player with the best ATP or WTA singles ranking will be awarded the wild card. The 2017 Australian Open main draw will be held Monday, Jan. 16, to Sunday, Jan. 29.

The USTA first used this 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, young Americans Noah Rubin and Samantha Crawford earned wild cards into the Australian Open by winning the wild card challenge. This year, former top junior players Taylor Townsend and Bjorn Fratangelo each won the USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge for wild cards into the French Open, and Sofia Kenin and Ernesto Escobedo earned US Open wild cards by winning the US Open Wild Card Challenge this summer.

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