Let’s hear it for USTA Pro Circuit alum American Samantha Crawford, who has gone on a blistering run to start 2016 Down Under, and just may be one of the real darkhorses to watch in 2016’s edition of the Australian Open, to which she has direct entry via her win in the USTA Pro Circuit Wildcard Challenge awarding her a Main Draw direct entry to the first grand slam tournament of 2016. Crawford won the most recent version of the Wildcard Challenge last Fall by collecting the most points among American players in three Fall hardcourt Pro Circuit tournaments.
Crawford, a former United States Open Girls Singles Champion, has labored on the Pro Circuit for a few years with varying successes, but has always been the possessor of a huge game, with enormous potential. Her groundstrokes, off of both wings, are Davenport-esque in their heaviness, consistent depth, and elegance, and it is no exaggeration to say that Sam, when “on” can rip winners from anywhere on the court. She has a fantastic serve as well, as the fact she has recently worked with ex-Sharapova coach Michael Joyce should speak volumes about her talent and potential for development. Having utterly flattened such international stars as Belinda Bencic and Andrea Petkovic in successive matches in her (so far) six match-and-counting-run in Brisbane, Australia to start the season, Crawford is arguably the hottest player so far in 2016, and could be the major “breakout” story of the year. Stay tuned. Up next for Sam: a date with Vika Azarenka in the Brisbane semis.