| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

USTA Player Development has announced that Brian Baker of Nashville, Tenn., has earned a main draw wild card into the 2012 French Open. This year, the USTA awarded one men’s singles main draw wild card into the French Open to the American player who finished with the best combined results at two USTA Pro Circuit clay-court challengers—a $100,000 event in Sarasota, Fla., and a $50,000 event in Savannah, Ga. Baker earned a combined 88 points, winning the title in Savannah and reaching the second round in Sarasota. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2012 French and U.S. Opens are exchanged.

Baker, who just turned 27-years-old, was a qualifier in both Savannah and Sarasota and climbed 79 spots in the ATP rankings this week to 214th in the world—his highest ranking since February 2006. Baker has won two USTA Pro Circuit Futures events this year and started 2012 ranked 456th.

Baker returned to pro tennis in 2011 after undergoing five surgeries for a series of ailments from 2005 to 2008, including Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in February 2008. In 2005, he reached the second round of the U.S. Open after upsetting then-number nine seed and former French Open champion Gaston Gaudio. Baker was also a standout junior, peaking at number two in the ITF World Junior Rankings in 2003 after reaching the boys singles final at the French Open and winning the 2002 Orange Bowl International. While he was away from the game, he served as an assistant coach at Belmont University in Nashville, where he was also enrolled as a student.

U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin (2009) is atop the standings for the French Open women’s wild card after winning the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend. The USTA will award one women’s singles main draw wild card into the 2012 French Open to the American woman who finishes with the best combined results in two of the following three $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events—Charlottesville; Dothan, Ala. (held prior to Charlottesville); and Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. (being held this week).

Oudin, 20, who is currently training at the USTA Training Center-East at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, earned 80 points after winning Charlottesville and reaching the second round in Dothan. Play in Indian Harbour Beach concludes on Sunday. Oudin can clinch the wild card by reaching the final regardless if any other American wins the event.