- Jessica Pegula defeats Melanie Oudin in qualifying match
- U.S. Open will be Pegula's first appearance in a Grand Slam
Jessica Pegula, daughter of Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, earned a spot in the U.S. Open with a qualifying-round victory against Melanie Oudin, who reached the quarterfinals in 2009 at age 17.
Pegula, 21, topped Oudin 7-6 (10-8), 6-0 Friday at the National Tennis Center in New York. She’ll make her first Grand Slam singles appearance in the main draw at the last major tennis tournament of the year, which starts Aug. 31.
Pegula’s first-round match will be against Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck, who is ranked 54th in the world and lost in the first round of her U.S. Open debut last year. Pegula is ranked No. 257. The winner of that match will go on to play either seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia or Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
Pegula was born in Buffalo to Kim and Terry Pegula, a real estate and natural-gas executive who sold his firm East Resources Inc. to Royal Dutch Shell Plc in 2010 for $4.9 billion. The family owns the Bills, the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres and has donated $102 million over the past five years to start men’s and women’s hockey programs at Penn State.
Pegula’s best finish in the WTA’s year-end rankings was No. 147 in 2012. She played in the U.S. Open doubles draw in 2012 (with Madison Keys) and 2011 (with Taylor Townsend), and her career earnings are $206,784.
Oudin, 23, was attempting to qualify for the U.S. Open main draw for the first time in three years. She had a heart ailment and has been unable to return to the form she showed as a teenager in 2009, when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, then upset former No. 1 Maria Sharapova on center court at the U.S. Open.