Collins. Anisimova. Fritz. Opelka. Pegula. Andreescu.
The list of successful Oracle Challenger Series alums reads as a who’s who of up-and-coming stars of the game. With the 2019-2020 Road to Indian Wells kicking off this week in New Haven, let’s take a look back at the most recent stops of the Oracle Challenger Series.
The first leg of the newly-expanded Challenger Series brought professional tennis back to the Windy City for the first time since the 1990s. Battling through tough conditions all week, it was the 6’10” Reilly Opelka who was the top American performer, reaching the final before falling to two-time ATP Tour title winner Denis Istomin. On the ladies’ side, 2018 Road to Indian Wells wild card recipient Danielle Collins joined a potent field of young Americans and resurgent international talent, with Croat Petra Martic claiming her maiden WTA title over Mona Barthel in straight sets.
On the campus of Rice University in Houston, young Americans Bradley Klahn and Baylor University sophomore Roy Smith battled past their respective halves of the draw and met for the title, with Klahn edging out the newcomer in a tight two-set battle. Similarly, it was an American coming-out party on the women’s side as Lauren Davis and Jessica Pegula entered the Road to Indian Wells leaderboard conversation with a final and semifinal appearance, respectively. Davis fell in the championship match to 24-time WTA winner and veteran Peng Shuai.
Back at the site of the first Challenger Series event, Donald Young registered an impressive tournament, once again reaching the semifinals and positioning himself atop the men’s wild card leaderboard. Canadian Brayden Schnur emerged as a tournament newcomer with a chance at dethroning the reigning champion Fritz in the final. Unfortunately for Schnur, Fritz was on his game and too good, as the Next Gen star completed his title defense.
A loaded ladies’ draw featured 2012 Wimbledon semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard, 2018 Newport Beach semifinalist Jil Teichmann, Road to Indian Wells leaderboard front-runners Davis and Pegula, and No. 1 overall seed Rebecca Peterson. The spotlight, however, was captured by Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who broke through in epic fashion to defeat Pegula in the ladies’ final. Less than two months later, Andreescu would go on to become the first women’s wild card to win the BNP Paribas Open.
With all four wild card entries into the BNP Paribas Open still up for grabs, the 2019 Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells drew record attendance.
Headlined by World No. 33 Kyle Edmund, the men’s field was oozing with a strong contingent of international faces, while Opelka and Young solidified their positioning atop the men’s wild card leaderboard. Edmund handily took the title over Next Gen riser Andrey Rublev.
The women’s draw packed its own share of fire power, led by World No. 16 Qiang Wang, women’s wild card leaders Pegula and Davis, as well as newcomers Alison Riske, Jennifer Brady and doubles specialist Kristina Mladenovic – in what was largely considered the strongest field in the history of the Challenger Series. Pegula and Davis both secured their wild card spot thanks to the comfortable leads built over the course of the first three Series events. In a thrilling final, Swiss Viktorija Golubic knocked-off a stiff challenge from Brady to capture her maiden WTA title.