Olympians Sugiyama, Pisnik Gain Main Draw Spots; US Open Series Race Could Spur Wild Card Entries
NEW HAVEN, Conn., August 9, 2004 – Vera Zvonareva of Russia and Sandrine Testud of France have withdrawn from the 2004 Pilot Pen presented by Michelob ULTRA, a US Open Series event. They will be replaced in the main draw by No. 14 Ai Sugiyama of Japan, who announced her entry last week, and No. 45 Tina Pisnik of Slovenia. The tournament, which features six of the world’s top 15 and nine of the top 20 players, will be held August 20-28 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.
Sugiyama receives the spot based on her No. 14 ranking. Pisnik was the highest-ranked player who had entered the tournament as of the July 5 deadline. The Pilot Pen now boasts 24 Olympians in its main and qualifying draws.
The tournament retains three main draw wild cards and six qualifying wild cards, which will be awarded by August 19. The US Open Series points race leader board released today by the USTA includes several players who could improve their standing by entering the Pilot Pen, the Series’ lone remaining event. France’s Amelie Mauresmo (100 points) is tied for the overall lead with Lindsay Davenport, who has already committed to the tournament. Venus Williams (57) and Anastasia Myskina (45) could also benefit in the race by playing in New Haven.
“As predicted, the Pilot Pen’s status as the final event of the US Open Series has led to some interesting opportunities for players seeking to earn US Open Series bonus monies,” said Anne Worcester, tournament director. “Pilot Pen wild cards have become an even hotter commodity, and we’ve been in close contact with players in the hopes the US Open Series race will persuade them to seek a wild card in New Haven.”
Zvonareva expressed regret at her withdrawal. "I am very sorry to be unable to play in the Pilot Pen this year,” she said. “I have played the event the past two years and always enjoyed myself. I have played a lot of matches already this summer and feel that the most important thing for me is to take some time off before the U.S. Open. I hope to be back in New Haven in 2005."
Pisnik, who had been the highest-ranked player who had entered as of July 5, cracked the top 30 for the first time at the start of 2004. A member of the Slovenian Olympic Team in 2000 and 2004 and Fed Cup player since 2001, Pisnik has one WTA Tour title, at Bol, Croatia in 2000. Her breakthrough season was in 2001, when she rose 324 spots for her first Top 100 finish at No. 82.
Pisnik joins an impressive field which includes No. 4 Lindsay Davenport of the USA; No. 6 Elena Dementieva, No. 8 Maria Sharapova, No. 15 Nadia Petrova and No. 19 Elena Bovina of Russia; No. 11 Sugiyama of Japan; No. 13 Paula Suarez of Argentina; No. 20 Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi of Israel; and No. 18 Karolina Sprem of Croatia.
About Pilot Pen Tennis presented by Michelob ULTRA
“New England’s Premier Women’s Sports Entertainment Event of the Year.” The 2004 Pilot Pen presented by Michelob ULTRA (www.pilotpentennis.com), a US Open Series event, will be held August 20-28 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale. Three of the world’s top 10 and six of the top-15-ranked players, including Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova, have committed to the tournament. A total of 16 hours of Pilot Pen Tennis action will be televised nationally on ESPN, ESPN2 and CBS Sports. For information on tickets, travel packages, sponsorships or on how to become a volunteer at the 2004 Pilot Pen, call the Pilot Pen Tennis office at 203/776-7331 or 888/99-PILOT.