Tennis

Tennis: Five Americans Granted Wild Cards / Clay Court Action Begins Saturday at River Oaks

HOUSTON – Eighteen-year-olds Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul headline the wild card entries for the 2016 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship. They are two of five Americans who have been awarded wild cards for next week’s tournament at River Oaks. Tim Smyczek has also been added to the main draw while Reilly Opelka and Brian Baker were granted qualifying wild cards.

Tiafoe, who at 15-years-old became the youngest boys’ singles champion in Orange Bowl history, will be making his River Oaks debut. The former junior World No.2 had success at three clay court Challenger events last spring which earned him a wild card into the main draw of the French Open.

Paul, the 2015 Roland Garros boys’ singles champion, will also be competing at River Oaks for the first time in his career. The former junior World No.3, who reached 2015 US Open junior final, has won four clay court Futures titles already in his career.

Smyczek, who has won five Challenger titles and reached a career high of No.68 in the ATP rankings in 2015, returns to River Oaks for a fifth time. His best result came in 2013 when he reached the second round, losing to former champion Juan Monaco.

Opelka, who captured the 2015 Wimbledon boys’ singles title, will be making his U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship debut. The 6’10” American’s entry in to qualifying at River Oaks is his first-ever singles appearance at an ATP World Tour event. He reached a career high of World No.4 in the juniors in 2015.

Baker, who is also making his debut at River Oaks, returns to play following a two and a half year hiatus due to injury. In 2012, the 30-year-old made a run to the final of the clay court tournament in Nice. He has won two Challenger titles in his career.

The action kicks off Saturday April 2 with Kids Day and School Spirit Saturday while qualifying begins at 10am. Admission is free on Saturday. Main draw play begins Monday, April 4 at noon.

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