Nineteen weekend warriors, 19 players who have qualified for the main draw of the Western & Southern Open.
The qualifying draws wrapped up Sunday evening in Cincy, with four Americans punching their tickets into the main draw: Taylor Townsend, Mitchell Krueger, Varvara Lepchenko and Christopher Eubanks.
Some familiar names booked their places, as well, including 2016 Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, former top 10 resident Mikhail Youzhny, one-time world No. 13 Alexandr Dolgopolov, Wimbledon junior champion Ashleigh Barty and two-time WTA titlist Donna Vekic.
Puig had to do it the hard way, dropping her second set to Marian Duque-Mariño before coming through in two hours and 46 minutes, winning 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-5. It was on this weekend a year ago that Puig won her gold in Rio, shocking the tennis world along the way.
It was pleasant surprises for all four Americans who qualified this weekend, Lepchenko being the only seeded one among them. Townsend, a former junior world No. 1, and Eubanks, were wild cards, both 21-year-olds with Atlanta connections earning their places in the main draw.
Eubanks will get his shot in the spotlight Monday evening when he meets tennis’ ultimate showman in Gael Monfils in the second match on Center Court not before 8:30pm local time.
Townsend beat two seeds on her way into the main draw, winner three-setters against No. 9 seed Irina-Camelia Begu and then No. 13 Carina Witthoeft to find her way into the main draw for the first time since 2014 when she qualified and made the second round.
Top qualifying seed Joao Sousa won on the men’s side, while Camila Giorgi stopped the women’s top seed, Magdalena Rybarikova, in straight sets.
Several Americans were on the cusp of the main draw, including 23-year-old Christian Harrison who dropped a tough three-set match against J.P. Smith, a former college standout at Tennessee. UCLA’s Mackenzie McDonald was a loser to Dolgopolov, the No. 5 seed.
Americans Sofia Kenin and Jennifer Brady also lost their final-round qualifying encounters.
The match of the day was perhaps the Youzhny-Ernests Gulbis battle in front of a packed house on Court 10, the two former top players playing into a third set where Youzhny emerged 6-4, saving nine out of the 10 break points he faced.