After a two-week hiatus and only two events on the year thus far, the challenger circuit comes back full force this week with events in Heilbronn Germany, Honolulu Hawaii, Singapore (Singapore), Bucaramanga Colombia, and Reunion Island. Personally, I think everyone should just meet up again at Reunion Island since it’s been weeks since anyone’s seen each other. Also: I love saying “Bucaramanga” out loud. Even better than cowabunga, dude. BUCARAMANGA!
You can click on our entry list page to see the devilish details of exactly who’s where, but here are some things to watch out for at each of the events:
Bucaramanga, Colombia (Outdoor Clay, $35,000 plus hospitality): This is one of the tourneys that is responsible for depleting the field of the Florida Futures this week – the cutoff for the USA F3 in Weston is a full 100 spots off the one this week. USA F2 Tamarac’s erstwhile top seed Victor Estrella is scheduled to appear here, though he was spotted in Weston on Saturday, wearing jeans no less. What could it all mean? Probably that he had a flight, but I dunno really.
The top seeds are Horacio Zeballos (will he get to play a match on a show court here, which he never got to do in the Sao Paulo Challenger, even while making the doubles final? Stay tuned!) and Joao “J-Wow” Souza, while two the most successful players of the past six weeks are so – Fernando Romboli and Gastao Elias – are also slated to appear. Elias was granted a wildcard to the event, while Romboli is the second seed in qualifying. Argentina leads the main draw field with seven entrants, including Diego Junqueira, Federico Delbonis, and Juan Pablo Brzezicki. We’ll break down the draw as it becomes available (post-AO most main draws are starting on Tuesday).
Reunion Island, France (Outdoor Hard, €30,000 plus hospitality): Ironically, this is the event with the worst field in possibly the history of ever, as unranked players have made the main draw and qualifying consists of eight locals. Wow. Not feeling the Reunion spirit so much, are we boys? Florent Serra received a wildcard, and Michal Przysiezny and Andreas Haider-Maurer are the main main draw combatants still scheduled to actually appear. Milos Raonic was scheduled to appear, but there appears to be a conflict in his schedule. What could be more important than the main draw at Reunion Island, I wonder?
Honolulu, Hawaii (Outdoor Hard, $50,000 with no hospitality) (hey, when you’re in Hawaii, who needs hospitality I say? Just sleep on the beach with your racquet bag as a pillow): This is the main Florida Futures-depleting culprit – Jesse Witten, Nick Monroe, Daniel Yoo, Roman Borvanov, Luka Gregorc, Olivier Sajous and others all made a very-lengthy beeline from Miami to Honolulu, where the top seed is still scheduled to be Richard Berankis, fresh (?) from his R3 meeting with David Ferrer at the Australian Open). In fact, pretty much all of who will comprise the top eight seeds – Berankis, Michael Russell, Robert Kendrick, Ryan Sweeting, Grega Zemlja, Bobby Reynolds, Tim Smyczek and Ryan Harrison – as will as Aussies like Greg Jones and Sam Groth will be here and recovering from Down Under shenanigans of one sort or another.
Singapore (Outdoor Hard, $50,000 with good old-fashioned hospitality): It’s the Challenger of Asia/Pacific, don’tcha know? As such, it’s a thousand hours ahead of me and has probably already happened. Since this is the one that is the most temporally ahead of the curve, I’ll return soon with a full draw analysis.
Heilbronn, Germany (Indoor Hard, €85,000 plus hospitality): If Lebron James lived here, I’d like to think he’d think everyone was saying “hi” to him whenever they say the name of the town. Talk about hospitality! Ostensibly (moneywise) the Challenger that should have the strongest field, this event is sadly more notable now for those who have pulled out than those that have remained in (although this is a relatively common occurrence in the week following the Oz Open). Michael Berrer, Rainer Schuettler, and Marsel Ilhan are the top seeds and are still entered as of this typing. But players like Blaz Kavcic, Karol Beck, Nicolas Mahut, and Thomas Schoorel are all out (maybe they all decided to meet up on Reunion Island and just party). Henri Kontinen, slated to return after a lengthy off-season spell due to a knee injury, is also sadly OUT.