Two years ago, former University of Virginia tennis star Danielle Collins was one of many up-and-coming Americans grinding it out in the annual clay court professional tournament at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
Today, Collins is ranked No. 32 in the world.
Subsequently, the former ’Hoo — who has been ranked as high as No. 24 — won’t be playing in this week’s Boar’s Head Resort Women’s Open, presented by Har-Tru.
Simply put, Collins got too good.
Over 18 years of the tournament, there have been countless players like Collins, who have used the event as a springboard to future success.
That’s what makes the event so special, according to Boar’s Head Pro Tournament Director Ron Manilla — who has seen Jelena Jancovic (the former world No. 1), Samantha Stosur, and Anna Kournikova (just to name a few) come through Charlottesville.
There’s no telling who among the Boar’s Head field may go on to stardom.
Manilla says this year’s $80,000 USTA pro-circuit event, which begins with qualifying action on Monday, is no different.
“We have a really strong U.S. contingent with a great blend of veterans and an amazing crop of highly touted young players who are just beginning their professional journeys,” Manilla said, “as well as some usual fan favorites.”
The headliner is No. 1 seed and former tournament champion Madison Brengle. The 29-year-old has been ranked as high as No. 35 in the world and in 2017 defeated Serena Williams. In January, the Dover, Delaware native made it to the second round of the Australian Open, falling to eventual semifinalist Karolina Pliskova in a tough three-setter.
Nicole Gibbs, just the third player in NCAA history to capture both singles and doubles titles in the same season when she was at Stanford, also will be a player to keep an eye on. Ranked as high as No. 68 in the world, the 26-year-old California native has made it to the third round of the Australian Open and the U.S. Open in her career.
Other top Americans in this year’s field include former tournament champion Allie Kiick, Sachia Vickery, Claire Liu, Caroline Dolehide and Francesca Di Lorenzo.
A player who has the tennis world excited is 15-year-old CoCo Gauff. In 2017, at the age of 13, she became the youngest-ever finalist at the U.S. Open girls singles championships. Recently, Gauff won her first WTA tour match at the Miami Open, becoming the youngest player to do so in a decade.
The highest ranked non-American player will be Anhelina Kalinina of the Ukraine, who nearly broke through at the 2018 U.S. Open before getting upended by Sloane Stephens in three sets.
This year’s tournament will be as fan-friendly as ever. In addition to the tennis action, Kids Day will take place on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
There will also be beer tastings on Thursday and Saturday, courtesy of new sponsor Three Notch’d Brewing Company. Three Notch’d has created a special beer — Millstone Pale Ale — just for Boar’s Head.
“It’s right at 6 percent and has a low bitterness profile with a touch of sweetness and some really nice, accentuated hops,” said Three Notch’d President and Founder Scott Roth. “It really has just a beautiful finish.”
The beer tastings, Kids Day and all the matches are free and open to the public.
“It’s an amazing setting, so intimate — you’re right up next to the court,” Manilla said. “The players are always willing to sit and talk with you. It’s just a great event. Come on out and enjoy yourselves.”
For the better part of the last two months, Manilla and Boar’s Head Director of Tennis and Pickleball Jonathan Sarosiek have been working feverishly to make the event as great as ever.
“Now that the UVa basketball team has won the national championship,” said Manilla, smiling, “we can now turn our attention to women’s professional tennis.”
For all the latest tournament news and the daily schedule, visit the Boar’s Head Resort Women’s Open Facebook page or www.procircuit.usta.com.