| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

The USTA has announced the launch of the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. The Wild Card Challenge, in its second year, will utilize the USTA Pro Circuit to award wild cards into the 2016 Australian Open.

In this Wild Card Challenge, the American man and American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points at two of the three select USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events this fall will earn main draw wild cards into the 2016 Australian Open. Only Americans who did not earn direct entry into the Australian Open are eligible. The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2015 U.S. Open and 2016 Australian Open are exchanged.

All participating tournaments will be streamed live on www.procircuit.usta.com and can also be followed on the USTA Pro Circuit app by searching “procircuit” in the app store. Two new $50,000 women’s events will be joining the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge: in Waco, Texas, and Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Australian Open Wild Card Challenge will consist of the following events:

$50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Events
►Tennis Classic of Macon, Macon, Ga. (week of Oct. 26)
►Bush’s $50,000 Waco Showdown, Waco, Texas (week of Nov. 2)
►Copperwynd Pro Women’s Challenge, Scottsdale, Ariz. (week of Nov. 9)

$50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Men’s Events
►Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger, Charlottesville, Va. (week of Nov. 2)
►Knoxville 2015 Challenger, Knoxville, Tenn. (week of Nov. 9)
►JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana, Champaign, Ill. (week of Nov. 16)

The USTA first used this wild card format in 2012 to award wild cards into the French Open and U.S. Open and has been doing so ever since. Last year, Irina Falconi and Denis Kudla earned wild cards into the Australian Open by winning this wild card challenge. This year, teenagers Frances Tiafoe and Louisa Chirico each won the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge for wild cards into the French Open, and Samantha Crawford and Bjorn Fratangelo earned US Open wild cards by winning the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge this summer. 

The 2016 Australian Open main draw will be held Monday, Jan. 18, to Sunday, Jan. 31.