Georgia All-America junior Ellen Perez earned a wildcard into the main draw of the US Open Sunday after winning a tournament at the IMG Bollettierri Academy in Florida.
Perez, a native of Shellharbour, Australia, will be making her second career appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event. Last year, she played in the main draw of the doubles at the Australian Open. On Sunday, she defeated fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty 6-4,6-3 to win the singles title in Bradenton. Barty, the No. 2 seed in the event, is a former Wimbledon Juniors champion and has since made three Grand Slam finals in doubles in her career.
Perez’s road to Flushing Meadows for the US Open featured three wins in three days at the IMG Academy. On Friday, she beat Naiktha Bains and on Saturday ousted the top seed in Arina Rodionova. This summer, Perez played selected ITF Tournaments in Europe including winning an event in Brussels as a qualifier.
She earned All-America honors last season after going 28-7 in singles and 19-9 in doubles, both at the No. 1 spot in the lineup. Perez helped the Bulldogs post a 22-5 record and final national ranking of No. 7 in 2016. She concluded the year in the ranked No. 5 in singles and No. 10 in doubles (with Mariana Gould) by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
The 2016 US Open will be Aug. 29-Sept. 11. Perez will be the first Bulldog underclassmen to play in the US Open main draw since Chelsey Gullickson in 2010 after she won the NCAA singles title as a sophomore in Athens. Gullickson drew the defending champion and No. 2 ranked player in the world in Caroline Wozniacki on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court and fell in straight sets.