Led by top seed and World No.31 Danielle Collins, twenty-one Americans are in the main draw of the Oracle Challenger Series – Houston and are looking to take the title in the Lone Star State.
Collins had a breakout season in 2019, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open to kick off her year. Recently, she announced a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but is still a threat to compete at the top levels of the game and, as the top seed in Houston, is still the favorite to win the title.
The first quarter is loaded with talent. Although the projected quarterfinalists are Collins and former Ohio State star Francesca DiLorenzo, two former Top 10 players could break through and cause early upsets. Two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Coco Vandeweghe is continuing her comeback after injuries marred much of her season. She received a wildcard into the main draw and opens up against Linda Huang, a junior at Rice University.
DiLorenzo’s potential second round opponent is none other than Genie Bouchard, who took the tennis world by storm in 2014, reaching the Australian Open and Roland Garros semifinals and her first-ever Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. That year, the fan-favorite Canadian reached her career-high ranking of World No.5 and is capable of producing spectacular tennis.
Shelby Rogers, another American player returning from injury, is the sleeper in this quarter, which is led by No.4 seed Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine and No.7 Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland. A quarterfinalist at Roland Garros in 2015, Rogers began her comeback in Charleston in April after a knee injury sidelined her for the majority of the 2018 season. Since then, she has won a title on the ITF circuit and is finding her form.
Also in this quarter is Usue Arconada, the Runner-Up at the Oracle Challenger Series – New Haven in September. She looks to go one step further here in Houston and take the title in Texas.
The third quarter is marked by generational divides, as veterans Varvara Lepchenko (USA) and Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) sit alongside young Americans Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe as the seeded players in this section.
Flipkens is a former Top 15 player who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2013. Known for her crafty play, she can wrong-foot anyone on tour and is comfortable at the net. Lepchenko made the Olympic Team in 2012 as one of the top 4 Americans that year and uses her lefty forehand to blast opponents off the court.
17-year-old McNally, half of the newly-formed and already-successful “Team McCoco” alongside teenage sensation Coco Gauff, is enjoying a breakout season playing on the pro circuit for the first time after a successful junior career saw her reach 5 junior Grand Slam finals in singles and doubles. Osuigwe, also 17, won the junior Roland Garros title in 2017 and is working her way up the rankings.
No.2 seed Taylor Townsend anchors the bottom half of the draw and is looking in fine form thanks to a successful fall hardcourt season. The American made waves at the US Open, shocking No.4 seed Simona Halep in the second round of the US Open before falling in the R16 to eventual Champion Bianca Andreescu in 3 sets. The Oracle Challenger Series – Houston tournament will be her first event since that remarkable run, so look for her to go deep.
Other players to watch in this quarter are American wildcard and fan-favorite Bethanie Mattek-Sands; Irina Falconi, who is coming back after taking a short break from the sport; and the hard-hitting Caroline Dolehide.