The USTA announced that the 36th season of the USTA Pro Circuit launches this week with two men’s events in Florida and California—the $10,000 clay-court men’s Futures in Plantation, Fla., and the new $15,000 hard-court men’s Futures in Los Angeles. Next week, the women’s season begins with a $25,000 event in Plantation.
The USTA Pro Circuit, the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, is scheduled to feature 90 events this year—including eight $100,000 events and more than 35 tournaments on clay—and will award nearly $3 million in total prize money. The 2015 calendar can be found on www.procircuit.usta.com.
The Plantation tournament begins a string of seven clay-court men’s Futures events, while two hard-court men’s events will be making their debuts on the USTA Pro Circuit in Los Angeles this week and in Long Beach, Calif., next week, giving players the opportunity to start their seasons on clay courts or hard courts. The women’s Plantation tournament is the first of three consecutive $25,000 events to be played on clay.
In all, there will be three separate clay-court seasons staged during the 2015 USTA Pro Circuit season. In addition to the one that leads off the year, there will be one in the spring, prior to the French Open, and another at the end of 2015. In conjunction with USTA Player Development, the USTA Pro Circuit continues to emphasize the importance of increased training for younger players on clay, particularly at the $10,000/$25,000 level for women and $10,000/$15,000 level for men.
Live streaming will continue for all USTA Pro Circuit men’s and women’s events with prize money of $50,000 and higher. Live streaming for the men will begin on Jan. 26 at the $50,000 Royal Lahaina Challenger in Maui, Hawaii, and women’s streaming will begin on Feb. 2 at the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich. The stream can be viewed at www.procircuit.usta.com.
In addition, USTA Player Development will again award wild cards into the main draws of the French Open, US Open and Australian Open based on players’ results on the USTA Pro Circuit. In April, a series of three men’s events (the $100,000 Challenger in Sarasota, Fla., and $50,000 Challengers in Savannah, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla.) and three women’s events ($50,000 events in Dothan, Ala., Charlottesville, Va., and Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.) will comprise the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, with Har-Tru serving as the sponsor of the wild card events for the third year. In July and August, a series of hard-court men’s and women’s events will decide the men’s and women’s wild card into the 2015 US Open, and in November, additional hard-court events will decide wild cards into the 2016 Australian Open. Each wild card will be determined by the American man or woman who amasses the greatest number of ATP and WTA ranking points at the selected events.
“The USTA Pro Circuit is still going strong after 36 years, developing hundreds of young players and bringing world-class tennis to local communities nationwide who might not otherwise see pro tennis,” said Brian Earley, Director of the USTA Pro Circuit. “We are excited to begin 2015 with strong playing fields and top-notch tennis and look forward to what the year will bring from high-quality live streaming and new surprises for fans to the opportunity for players to compete in Grand Slam events through their results on the USTA Pro Circuit.”
The opening weeks of competition for the 2015 season feature numerous young Americans and veterans looking to develop their games into the spring. Those scheduled to compete in the coming weeks include:
World junior No. 1 CiCi Bellis, who made international headlines at the 2014 US Open with her first-round upset of No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova and who last year won the first two USTA Pro Circuit singles titles of her career following the US Open; Sachia Vickery, who reached the quarterfinals of the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Stanford, Calif., last summer—her career-best WTA result—and who won the 2013 USTA National Girls’ 18s singles and doubles titles to earn wild cards into that year’s US Open, where she won her first-round match in singles; as well as 2012 US Open girls’ champion Samantha Crawford.
World junior No. 3 and 2014 Orange Bowl champion Stefan Kozlov, who last year reached the final of the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Sacramento, Calif., becoming, at 16, the youngest American to reach a Challenger final since Andre Agassi in 1986; Marcos Giron, who won the 2014 NCAA singles title as a junior at UCLA; and University of Virginia standout Mitchell Frank.
Former world No. 64 Ryan Sweeting, who is on the entry list for the Maui Challenger and has played in just one tournament since March 2013 due to injury. Sweeting, who is married to “Big Bang Theory”actress Kaley Cuoco, won the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston in 2011 and holds three singles titles and three doubles titles on the USTA Pro Circuit. Top 200 Americans Ryan Harrison, Bradley Klahn, Tim Smyczek and Denis Kudla are also scheduled to compete in Maui, held the second week of the Australian Open.
With 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 professionals, and a frequent battleground for established players. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries played on the USTA Pro Circuit, competing for valuable ATP and WTA ranking points. Administered on the local level, the USTA Pro Circuit brings world-class tennis to local courts nationwide as part of the fabric of communities—an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.
Since 1979, 17 USTA Pro Circuit alums (including five Americans) have achieved the No. 1 world singles rankings. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport, Pete Sampras, Justine Henin, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi are among the game’s top stars who began their career on the USTA Pro Circuit. The past few years have seen breakout performances by a number of USTA Pro Circuit players, including John Isner, Sloane Stephens, Jack Sock, and Madison Keys.