With the first stop on the 2019-2020 Oracle Challenger Series set to begin this Sunday at the Yale Tennis Center, a familiar contingent of Americans – 32 to be exact – will descend upon New Haven, with hopes of making their own noise as a new Road to Indian Wells begins.
Through the first two iterations of the Series, we have seen promising young Americans rise through the ranks to do some serious damage on Tour – whether it be Danielle Collins breaking onto the scene after winning the Newport Beach event in 2018; Amanda Anisimova using a wild card to abruptly end Petra Kvitova’s return and 14-match win streak at the BNP Paribas Open in 2018; or Coco Gauff leveraging valuable experience gained at Indian Wells earlier this year to stun two main draw opponents at Wimbledon – more Americans are primed to have a coming out party as action gets underway Monday.
Who will steal the spotlight and kick off their Road to Indian Wells with a bang? Let’s have a look at a few of our Americans to watch at New Haven.
Past wild card winners Jessica Pegula (2019) and Bradley Klahn (2018) will return to the Series, both trending upwards as the 2019 season enters the home stretch. Pegula, who won the Citi Open singles title in August, will look to build upon a semifinal appearance in Houston and Final appearance at Newport Beach; results that sparked the American to finish atop the 2019 Road to Indian Wells leaderboard, earning her wild card entry into the BNP Paribas Open. Klahn returns having secured a straight set main draw victory at the US Open over Thiago Monteiro. Klahn will look to maintain the form that catapulted him to the top in Houston, where he captured the men’s singles title in 2018.
A host of dangerous American women will join World No. 56 Pegula in the draw; including current World No. 70 and Indian Wells finalist Jennifer Brady. The doubles specialist will shift her focus to singles and look to make a splash at the first stop in the 2019-2020 Series; Christina McHale, a former Top 25 player who has accumulated an impressive six-career Top 10 victories on Tour will make the trip East; as will rising sensation Catherine McNally, who secured a main draw victory at the US Open against Timea Baczinsky and recently won the Citi Open women’s doubles title with Coco Gauff.
Rounding out the American women are Nicole Gibbs, who will make a fifth Series appearance; and a trio of 1R main draw winners at the US Open: Kristie Ahn, Francesca Di Lorenzo and Taylor Townsend.
On the men’s side, Klahn will be joined by current World No. 79 Steve Johnson, who is a four-time ATP Tour title winner and 2019 Delray Beach Open semifinalist. New Haven will mark Johnson’s first appearance at the Series. Also making his debut will be former Top 10 singles player Jack Sock, who brings a robust resume of career accomplishments with him out East. The Lincoln, NE native holds 18 combined Tour titles, including three grand slam doubles triumphs (Wimbledon 2014, 2018 and US Open 2018). Series veteran Marcos Giron is back and hungry for more; the Thousand Oaks product has made significant noise this season, securing the Indian Wells doubles title and advancing to the 3R of the BNP Paribas Open after upsets of Jeremy Chardy and Alex de Minaur.
Completing a draw of gritty Americans will be 2019 Road to Indian Wells wild card winner and two-time semifinalist Donald Young; Chicago semifinalist Bjorn Fratangelo; Houston Finalist and Baylor University phenom Roy Smith; and 2018 Oracle US Tennis Award winner Christopher Eubanks.
Sights are set on stop one and players are nearly ready to hit the courts as a new race for wild card entry into the BNP Paribas Open approaches. Who will make an early move and position themselves favorably on the 2019-2020 Road to Indian Wells? Join us Sunday at the Yale Tennis Center to find out!