World No. 92 Jessica Pegula was in an ideal position stepping on court at the fourth and final Oracle Challenger event in Indian Wells this morning. A semifinals appearance in Houston and a finals appearance in Newport Beach last month placed Pegula only one point behind compatriot Lauren Davis. With Davis’ first round elimination on Monday, Pegula, who had a first round bye as a seeded player, had only to step on court to start her second round match in order to surpass Davis on the leaderboard and clinch a wild card.
Currently sitting at her career high ranking, Pegula has taken advantage of the opportunity to play multiple Oracle Challenger Series events in the past several month. “It’s awesome that Oracle is giving Americans the chance to play pretty big tournaments in the States and I’ve definitely taken advantage,” said Pegula. “It really does help a lot. It’s helped my rankings a lot.” Pegula has jumped 33 spots in the rankings since her first Oracle Challenger Series event in Houston, a number she hopes to grow in her remaining matches in the desert.
There are a slew of American women still in the running for the second wild card, a group that includes Varvara Lepchenko, Nicole Gibbs, Taylor Townsend, Kristie Ahn, Claire Liu and several more. The remaining women would need to win the Oracle Challenger Series title in order to pass Lauren Davis who, though eliminated from this event, was a finalist in Houston and a semifinalist in Newport Beach.
“It’s really exciting! I qualified once here when I was younger, it’s a really fun tournament – I’m really excited! It’s still another week to do really well here, so I’m trying to make the best of that and obviously I’m excited for next week.”
This will be Pegula’s second main draw appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. She came up through qualifying in 2012 and lost in the first round to Magdalena Rybarikova. She also appeared in qualifying in 2013, 2015 and 2016.