In 2015, Tar Heel tennis player Jamie Loeb won the NCAA women’s singles championship. In doing so, she became the first Tar Heel, man or woman, to win a NCAA singles’ championship. Being the national champion is a big enough deal on its own, but it also got her a nice secondary prize as well.
After winning NCAAs, Loeb was given a wild card into the 2015 US Open women’s singles tournament. She would turn pro, cutting her college career short. The New York-born Loeb got the big honor of playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Open’s main court, against fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki. Loeb went on to lose in straight sets, however
Three years later, Loeb is on the verge of qualifiying for the US Open again.
Thanks to two consecutive straight set wins, Loeb is in the final round of qualifying in Flushing Meadows. Ranked 164th in the world, she’s defeated Junri Namigata and the higher-ranked Ysaline Bonaventure, dropping only 11 games in four sets, to make the final round.
Awaiting her in the final match is former world #5, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard. Loeb will probably go in as the underdog, considering that Bouchard is a former Wimbledon finalist. However, there’s a reason Bouchard is stuck playing qualifying. She hasn’t had a great last 12 months. Loeb is certainly in with a shot.
If Loeb does knock off Bouchard and get into the main draw, there’s a couple intriguing possibilities that could await her. The qualifying winners get randomly drawn into open slots in the bracket, so it’s unknown who she would play right now.
One possibility would be Maria Sharapova. If that matchup does end up happening, it would probably lead to the New York native being put on another major court in Queens yet again.
There are also several winnable spots that a qualifying winner could get stuck in. No offense to Anna Blinkova, Danielle Collins, or Aryna Sabalenka, but if Loeb is playing well, none of those players are unbeatable. Considering that Loeb is outside the top 100 of the rankings, and they aren’t, she would still be the underdog, however.
Just qualifying on it’s own would be pretty huge. Just winning the next match would vault her up another couple spots in the rankings. That may not seem like a big deal, but every spot helps when it comes to helping her get into other tournaments during the WTA Tour season.
If you want to see Loeb take on Bouchard, their match is coming up at 12:20 PM eastern. Tennis Channel is airing coverage of US Open qualifying, so check that if you get it.