One of the pleasures of the alleged “off-season” (a scandalous misnomer) is that we are provided ample opportunity to learn about new players and places. After all, when you’re a rabid professional tennis fan, and there are only a few ITF tournaments happening around the globe, what else is there for you to do? (Work with me, here.) (And that involves: not answering my rhetorical question, and just merrily reading on.)

Cases in point:

Ricardo Urzua-Rivera, Chile F9 Futures Quarterfinalist: The 21 year-old from Rancagua, Chile, (about 90 km south of Santiago), is a former Top Ten-ranked junior in the world, the erstwhile champion of the Banana Bowl (not quite the Orange Bowl, but close), and once juniordubs partners with Challenger Tennis faves Milos Raonic and Harri Heliovaara, that intrepid Finnish blogger.

Today, he is an unseeded 940th-ranked combatant in Concepcion, squaring off against an almost-as-equally-unheralded Guido Andreozzi of Argentina. To the winner goes the spoils: 190 bucks and 3 ATP ranking points. It’s a hard-knock life sometimes, and success in the juniors is only alchemized into future fortunes a fraction of the time.

I wish Ricardo the best today, and I also hope he continues to indulge in his personal interest of “Football Ping pong”, if only because it conjures up mental images of someone playing table tennis using the oblong pigskin ball of American Football, bouncing all higgledy-piggledy and every which way. You thought pro tennis was difficult? That’s nothing compared to football ping pong. (Look, I told you to work with me; and if the frequent lack of commas in ITF profiles leaves me to indulge in desperate acts of comedy then so be it.)

Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz, Top Seed and Chile F9 Futures Quarterfinalist*: The 21 year-old’s penchant for “Cycling Singing” has already been well-documented here. But did you know: he was once the stalwart juniordubs sidekick of one Ricardo Urzua-Rivera? I know! Small world, innit? Together they played 25 tourneys in all, in South America, Central America, North America and Europe, enjoying great success, outdueling the dual Ryans – Harrison and Lipman – in the Grade 1 Kentucky International Finals and losing a close three-set battle to Rhyne Williams and Ricardas Berankis in the finals of the 2007 Yucatan World Cup in their final match together as juniors. (Incidentally, Urzua-Rivera must have nightmares to this day about the wee Lithuanian, against whom he was 0-4 in singles and in doubles.)

Today, the fifth-ranked Chilean opts to pair up with the much-higher-ranked Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan instead (he’s the 2nd seed in the Chile F9. I know! Small world again!). Beginning in February of 2009, Rivera-Aranguiz ditched Urzua-Rivera and since then has played 18 tournaments with his now-7th-ranked Chilean counterpart. They played the F9 together as well, losing in the quarterfinals and thus having to split their $180 bounty between them.

There’s an untold saga, here. A tale of separate levels of success for two 21 year-old friends who’ve traveled the world together, quarreled and laughed, won and lost, come together and fallen apart. But you won’t find it in Nic Brown’s Doubles, nor will you find it here. For I do not know the facts: I can merely create my own imagined narrative sown from a wild imagination and a brain that’s watched The Motorcycle Diaries too many times. (Yes, I know that was Argentina. You said you would work with me.)

*6 Chileans made the quarterfinals of the Chile F9, bettering the total of 4 last week at the Chile F8 in the club across town.

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