5 min read
A large cohort of players that have competed on the UTR Pro Tennis Tour are taking part in this year's Australian Open. Familiar names are in the qualifying, main draw, doubles, and junior events including Katie Volynets, Asia Muhammad, Stefan Kozlov, and Alex Michelsen.
Katie Volynets (UTR Rating 11.91), a semifinalist at the PTT Newport Beach Women’s $25K Hard 1 last year, won three rounds this week to earn a place in the main draw. The 20-year-old American has appeared in the first round of three majors (qualifying for Wimbledon in 2021 and receiving wild cards into the 2019 and 2021 US Open's). This marks her Australian Open debut.
Volynets will take on Beatriz Haddad Maia (12.10) as she seeks her first main draw victory at the Grand Slam level. According to Universal Tennis INSIGHTS' head-to-head tool, Volynets has a 32% chance of winning. The two have faced off just once, in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying last year, which Volynets won in straight sets.
PTT Barcelona Women's $25K Clay 1 champion Irina Bara (11.76) reached the final round of qualifying, as did Kim Birrell (11.68), who finished fourth at a PTT event in Brisbane last year. Bara gained entry into the main draw as a lucky loser, falling to Nuria Parrizas-Diaz. Thirteen other female players that have played either 2021 PTT or 2020 UTR Pro Tennis Series (PTS) events competed in the qualifying draw.
Volynets is joined in the main draw by Australians Samantha Stosur, Daria Gavrilova (Saville), and Storm Sanders, who all benefited from PTS matches in 2020. The doubles draw features Desirae Krawczyk (a former PTS participant) and Asia Muhammad, who finished in second place at a PTT event in Brisbane last year.
Young Aussies Makes a Splash
Wild card entry Dane Sweeny (UTR Rating 13.74) won one round in qualifying by beating Gregoire Barrere. The 20-year-old Australian was named the Standout PTT Player in 2021 after going 33-5 and winning back-to-back titles in Brisbane.
Another young Australian to take advantage of a wild card was Edward Winter (13.08). The 17-year-old stunned veteran pro Gilles Simon (14.70) to win his first Grand Slam-level match in his debut. He played five PTT events in 2021.
Twelve other PTT and UTR Pro Tennis Series players played in the qualifying draw including eight-time PTT champion Li Tu and 2020 PTS Naples Men’s $25K Clay 1 champion Ramkumar Ramanathan. The main draw will feature five Australians who played in PTS events in 2020 including Thanasai Kokkinakis, Alex Bolt, and James Duckworth.
Michelsen Leads Junior Charge
Three PTT players are in the junior boys' event including Alex Michelsen, Aidan Kim, and Quang Duong. Michelsen just won his first PTT title in his sixth attempt at the PTT Newport Beach Men’s $25K Hard 15. He's set to make his Grand Slam debut when the junior tournament gets underway.
“Just being in Melbourne and seeing all those guys and being in that realm is a totally different, totally new experience I’m going to have,” he said. “It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait and maybe I could get to practice with a pro, that’d be awesome.”
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 a.m. EST, Jan. 14, 2022.