Sunday, June 15, 2014

Predicting the Top 10 WTA Americans - halfway there

Following up on yesterday's post about predicting the Top 10 US men for 2014, I also put together a prediction for who I thought the Top 10 US women would be. I don't have proof of this so you'll just have to take my word. Okay? Okay.

My prediction for the Top 10 ranked WTA players from the USA at the end of 2014 and where I thought they'd finish in the rankings:
1. Serena Williams (2)
2. Sloane Stephens (20)
3. Madison Keys (25)
4. Venus Williams (30)
5. Jamie Hampton (40)
6. Christina McHale (50)
7. Alison Riske (60)
8. CoCo Vandeweghe (70)
9. Varvara Lepchenko (75)
10. Lauren Davis (80)

... and here's where they stand halfway through the season, both with their rankings and the Road to Singapore standings:

WTA Americans as of 6/9/2014

WTA Ranking Road Standing
1 S. Williams (1) S. Williams (4)
2 Stephens (19) V. Williams (19)
3 V. Williams (30) Stephens (24)
4 Riske (40) McHale (32)
5 Keys (42) Keys (42)
6 McHale (49) Davis (47)
7 Lepchenko (59) Lepchenko (51)
8 Hampton (60) Riske (69)
9 Davis (61) Kiick (86)
10 King (74) Townsend (87)
11 Vandeweghe (75) King (90)


With Jamie Hampton mere hours away from falling outside the Top 100 (sobbbbbb!) I added the 11th spot for CoCo Vandeweghe, who should be at or around her career-high of #69 at the same instant Jamie drops.

Other than Jamie, I am doing pretty well. Keys has started a bit slower than I thought she might, but the hard courts should provide her with ample opportunity to shine - although draws will play a big part in how well she does.

Davis is having a stronger start than I expected. It would be amazing to see Lauren somehow finish the year in the Top 50. Meanwhile, McHale looks poised to rise higher after Wimbledon with nothing to defend between the next two majors. Unfortunately, she lost in a BUSTER in the second round of Eastbourne qualies today. She does seem to fold under pressure more than one would like, which prevents me from assuring you, good reader, of her return to a Top 30 spot this year.

The most interesting race will be to see who finishes higher among Kiick, Townsend, and Victoria Duval - any or all of whom have a chance of getting into the top 100 (and Top 10 US women). Duval has SIX points to defend until the US Open and is only 100 points away from the Top 100. Yes she has those second-round + qualies points to defend there (160 total), and an ITF $50K title (70 points) in Toronto, but that's basically it.  Direct entry (or a WC) to the US Open and a nice draw there could be key to her success.

Taylor, meanwhile, has merely 50 points to defend the rest of the year and, one would expect, a good number of wildcards coming her way (including Wimbledon). However, she's yet to prove her consistency on the tour and I could honestly see this summer going either way for her.

Finally, Kiick has only 10 points to defend through the US Open, but then the points come off pretty regularly. Many of the points she has in the race are thanks to her November & December successes in ITFs. Should she enter the Top 100 by then, it will be interesting to see if she tries to defend those points (this time as a high seed) or RESTS, as she probably should do, and start 2015 fresh with new horizons and great opportunity.

Exciting times for those teens, and a few others not mentioned (okay, I'll mention them: Min, Vickery & Chirico).  Onward we go, into the wild green yonder of Wimbledon!

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