By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
LAS VEGAS – Advantage, wild cards.
Alexandra Mueller, a 22-year-old from Abington, Pa., and Chelsey Gullickson, 20, from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., took full advantage of their wild cards on Tuesday during the first day of the Lexus of Las Vegas Open, a USTA $50,000 women’s event being played at the Red Rock Country Club.
Mueller beat veteran Alexandra Stevenson, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, and now owns a 2-1 career head-to-head advantage over Stevenson, having won their last two matches, including another three-setter at a Boston $50,000 Challenger in June.
"I’m familiar with her, having played her those two other times," said Mueller, who was the winner of the US Open National Playoffs over the summer and won a wild card into the US Open qualifying tournament. "I know she can turn it on at times and be real explosive. I had a couple of set points in the first that I couldn’t pull the trigger on."
Stevenson, who will be 30 in December, is currently ranked No. 323 in the world, while Mueller is No. 442.
Joining Mueller in the winner’s circle was another wild card -- Gullickson. The 2010 NCAA singles champion from Georgia is taking the fall off from school to see how she does in professional events. She had a nice win over No. 7-seeded Julia Cohen on Tuesday, beating the world’s No. 169 player, 0-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2. Gullickson, who is the daughter of former major league pitcher Bill Gullickson, recently played at the US Open, losing a night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court to top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the first round.
Only two other main-draw singles matches were played, with No. 2-seeded Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. beating Kathrin Woerle of Germany, 6-3, 6-3, and Florida’s Lauren Albanese taking out Stephanie Foretz Gacon of France, 7-6 (4), 6-0.
Las Vegas’ Asia Muhammad, 19, will play her first singles match in the last match on Stadium Court on Wednesday against No. 5-seeded Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, not before 4 p.m. Muhammad is currently ranked No. 443 in the world and was a surprise quarterfinalist in the event last year and a runner-up in a similar event in 2008.
It was a good day to be an odd-numbered seeded player in qualifying, as the Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 7 seeds all won matches Tuesday to gain entry into the main draw. Former Georgia Tech All-American Irina Falconi (No. 1), all-time USTA Pro Circuit singles leader Julie Ditty (No. 3), Ashley Weinhold (No. 5) and Brittany Augustine (No. 7) each won straight-sets matches.
Two of those qualifiers will face each other in the first round on Wednesday, as Ditty drew Weinhold.
First-Round Singles Scores
Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) (2) def. Kathrin Woerle (GER), 6-3, 6-3
Lauren Albanese (U.S.) def. Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA), 7-6 (4), 6-0
Chelsey Gullickson (U.S.) (wc) def. Julia Cohen (U.S.) (7), 0-6 7-6 (3), 6-2
Alexandra Mueller (U.S.) (wc) def. Alexandra Stevenson (U.S.), 5-7, 6-1, 6-3
First-Round Doubles Scores
Lindsay Lee-Waters (U.S.) (4) / Megan Moulton-Levy def. Asia Muhammad (U.S.) / Ashley Weinhold (U.S.), 6-4, 6-2
Kimberly Couts (U.S.) / Anna Tatishvili (GEO) (3) def. Sabrina Capannolo (U.S.) / Amanda Fink (U.S.), 6-1, 6-3
Christina Fusano (U.S.) / Courtney Nagle (U.S.) def. Heidi El Tabakh (CAN) / Riza Zalameda (U.S.), 6-2, 6-2
Irina Falconi (U.S.) / Maria Sanchez (U.S.) def. Jorgelina Cravero (ARG) / Kathrin Woerle (GER), 6-0, 3-6, (10-7)
Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) / Alexa Glatch (U.S.) def. Nicole Melichar (U.S.) / Petra Rampre (SLO), 6-1, 6-0
Abigail Spears (U.S.) (2) / Mashona Washington (U.S.) def. Lauren Albanese (U.S.) / Laura Siegemund (GER), 6-3, 6-2
Madison Brengle (U.S.) / def. Amra Sadikovic (SUI) def. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) / Edina Gallovits (ROU) (1), 6-2, 5-7, (10-6)
Final Qualifying Scores
Ashley Weinhold (U.S.) (5) def. Jorgelina Cravero (ARG) (4), 6-1 6-2
Brittany Augustine (U.S.) (7) def. Julia Boserup (U.S.) (2), 6-4 7-5
Julie Ditty (U.S.) (3) def. Maria Sanchez (U.S.), 6-0 6-1
Irina Falconi (U.S.) (1) def. Amanda Fink (U.S.) (6), 6-4 7-5
Wednesday’s Order of Play:
Starting at 10 a.m. on Stadium Court
Mashona Washington (U.S.) vs. Alexa Glatch (U.S.) (wc)
Camila Giorgi (ITA) vs. Mirjana Lucic (CRO) (4)
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) (3) vs. Irina Falconi (U.S.) (q)
Asia Muhammad (U.S.) (wc) vs. vs. Mariana Duque-Marino (COL) (5)
Starting at 10 a.m. on Court 2
Edina Gallovits (ROU) (1) vs. Petra Rampre (SLO)
Heidi El Tabakh (CAN) vs. Madison Brengle (U.S)
Kimberly Couts (U.S.) vs. Brittany Augustine (U.S) (q)
Ashley Weinhold (U.S.) (q) vs. Julie Ditty (U.S) (q)
Starting at 10 a.m. on Court 3
Ekaterina Shulaeva (CAN) vs. Valerie Tetreault (CAN) (8)
Abigail Spears (U.S.) vs. Laura Siegemund (GER)
Lindsay Lee-Waters (U.S.) vs. Shelby Rogers (U.S.)
Liga Dekmeijere (LAT) / Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) vs. Alexandra Mueller (U.S.) / Ahsha Rolle (U.S.)
Starting at 10 a.m. on Court 5
Anna Tatishvili (GEO) (6) vs. Amra Sadikovic (SUI)
The following is a tentative schedule of events supplementing the tournament:
Wednesday Sept. 29 – Players Party at J.W. Marriott, 6-9 p.m. (Free for ticket holders).
Thursday Sept. 30 – High School Day, 6-8 p.m. (Free general admission for ages 15-18).
Friday, Oct. 1 – Volkl/Becker Racquet Day, 6-8 p.m.
USTA Members Day ($10 off admission for all current USTA members)
Saturday, Oct. 2 – Super Semifinal Saturday; USTA Ladies League Luncheon.
For additional event and ticket information, please visit www.lexuslvopen.com
SINGLES: Prize Money Points
Winner $7,315 70
Runner-up $3,990 50
Semifinalist $2,185 32
Quarterfinalist $1,235 18
Round of 16 $760 10
Round of 32 $475 1
DOUBLES: Prize Money (per team)
Round of 16 $285
USTA Pro Circuit
With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for approximately $3.2 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jelena Jankovic are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world-class tennis administered on the local level and played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide — an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.