Ah, the excitement. The first challenger of the year on Floridian soil, and I intend to cover the hell out of it – even though the forecast this weekend is for near-record 92 degrees Fahrenheit/33.3 degrees Celsius temperatures (speaking of hell). I know challenger tourneys in the USA can sometimes be challenging to follow from afar, due to lack of livescore or livestream, etc., but the Tally Chally really does have their act together, coverage-wise.

Their website is one of the better sites on the Challenger Tour, and they have a very active Twitter account that will no doubt keep you updated on the latest happenings. In addition, they’ve had a strong media presence already in the lead up to the tournament, and that bodes well as far as their online presence as the event unfolds. Tournament director Karen Vogter has already been featured prominently on local TV, even taking a turn as a celebrity chef! Anyone for goat cheese with sun-dried tomatoes? Karen’s got you covered.

The Tall Chall is in their 12th year, and they have a rich roster of past champions: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mardy Fish, and John Isner among them. Brian Dabul beat Robbie Ginepri in the final of last year’s event, when Ginepri was felled by injury and had to retire in the second set. The big news this year, of course, is that James Blake has accepted a wild card into the tourney.

James will be joined by such players as Donald Young, Sarajevo Challenger titlist Amer Delic, Dallas Challenger champ (and, along with Young, another Andy Murray conquerer) Alex Bogomolov Jr., Ryan Sweeting – who’s still alive in the ATP Houston quarterfinals, having just taken out Sam Querrey – and Rainer Schuettler. You can check out the full roster at the bottom of my tournament entry list page. In addition to hosting some great tennis action, they have an amazingly altruistic community presence, hosting free clinics and giving money they raise back to the community.

Ryan Swatting: Sweeting at the Tally Chally

But however much the tournament hosts cover, I intend to supplement it. ‘Cause I’m that kind of guy. I’ll be keeping close tabs on the qualifying action this weekend, and if you live in the area, you can too. Qualifying rounds are free to the public, and feature some of the next great up-and-coming stars of the future. I highly suggest you check it out if you’re anywhere nearby (or even moderately far away – I myself am driving six hours to the event, so if you live closer than that I expect to see you there, haha).

The tournament takes place at the Forestmeadows Tennis Complex, located at 4750 North Meridian Road (in Tallahassee, of course). I’ll be the guy with the dorky Vero Beach baseball cap and the black rimmed glasses – feel free to approach/accost me as needed!

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