Nicole Vaidisova, a former world top 10 player and a 2006 semifinalist at the French Open, is returning to the Cellular South Cup tennis tournament next month at The Racquet Club, her first appearance in Memphis since being the event's top seed four years ago.
Vaidisova, 20, accepted a wild card to play in the Sony Ericsson Women's Tennis Association Tour event, joining world No. 14 Maria Sharapova and rising American teenager Melanie Oudin , the highest- ranked U.S. player behind world No. 1 Serena Williams and her sister Venus, ranked sixth. Oudin is ranked 48th.
The Cellular South Cup, and the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, the accompanying men's event, will be held Feb. 12- 21. Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, James Blake and Fernando Verdasco are among the tournament's top draws in the men's field.
Vaidisova's world ranking, which peaked at No. 7 in May 2007, has plummeted in the past two years. After a first-round loss at Wimbledon last summer, she dropped out of the top 100 and ended the year ranked 187th.
"She has been struggling with a wrist injury, but now she is healed and ready to go," said tournament director Peter Lebedevs. "She didn't know she had the wrist injury and kept playing."
In an effort to revive her slumping game, Vaidisova recently switched coaches, hiring Eric van Harpen.
Van Harpen has worked with Maria Kirilenko and Anna Kournikova.
"I think she is going to get back on track after getting a new coach," Lebedevs said.
Vaidisova, of the Czech Republic, was a rising star in 2005 when she played in Memphis for the first time as a No. 7 seed.
Vaidisova advanced to the semifinals before losing in two tiebreakers to No. 3 seed Meghann Shaughnessy. In 2006, Vaidisova returned as the No. 1 seed, but she was upset in the opening round by wild card Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka, the world No.7, won last year's Cellular South Cup.
Lebedevs also said Thursday that Croatian teenager Ajla Tomljanovic has accepted a wild card. Tomljanovic won an event on the tour's minor league circuit last week in Plantation, Fla., earning a spot in the main draw by qualifying and beating the tournament's No. 3 seed in the final.