Hmmm. It seems all I ever post here anymore is W.A.T.C.H. Lists. Perhaps I should just change this blog’s name to WATCH List Tennis instead of Challenger Tennis. Well fear not, loyal Challenger tennis fans, I’ve a post in the works that’s sure to be the best damn thing you’ll ever read*. But enough about me and my lazy malaise; this post is about celebrating other people dammit! (Seriously, though, I’m great.)
Let’s therefore take a look at Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs for the week:
So people, do you see what I see? (NOTE: I’ve highlighted it in blue, so if you don’t see it then you should get your eyes checked.) Yup, that’s right: the Argentinians have continued their relentless assault on the weekly W.A.T.C.H. list charts. And this week there are more then ever! Five (5) (FIVE!) of the Top 10 on this week’s list are from La Legion Argentina.
Seriously, what is in the water in Argentina? Whatever it is, it makes them multiply like career-high Mogwai.
And can this Argentinian water be bottled and exported? Because it’s almost as if the players from other nations are just WATCH list gate-crashers at this point. (And to think, San Juan Challenger winner Guido Andreozzi was only four ranking rungs off his high too!) Nothing surprises me about their success these days. At this rate, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they all were from Tandil, a la Juan Martin del Potro, Juan Monaco, Maximo Gonzalez and others. (Del Potro, by the way, thinks it’s the meat and not the water.)
Moving on. One of our W.A.T.C.H. List gate crashers is longtime Challenger Tennis fave James Duckworth. The 21-year-old Aussie is gifted with variety, tenacity and pluck — he can chip and charge you to death or grind you out from the baseline. Serve an volley? Changing speeds? Not a problem.
Duckworth got a win in the Shangai Masters 1000 qualies to help boost him to his current ranking of 147 in the world. As we saw in my hugely unpopular Home and Away series, Ducky plays much better away from home (and on clay) than he does in Australia; he wins over 65% of his matches abroad and just under 50% at home. And on clay, that percentage ratchets up to over 70%.
Hmmm, wait a minute… James plays well away and on clay, huh — do you think he’s just an Argie in disguise? I’m ruling nothing out, at this point.
Besides the Argentinians, the other most-represented nation on this week’s list is the United States, with Tim Smyczek, Chase Buchanan and Bjorn Fratangelo all posting personal bests. I read a terrific article this week in which Denis Kudla has a few good points to make about the oft-pilloried State of American Tennis (but really, Denis — EIGHT Slams for Roddick is a bit much).
He notes that the U.S. has a whole host of 22-years-and-under prospects coming up, while other big federations like Spain and France just have one guy. And he’s right (nearly). For example, in the last five weeks of W.A.T.C.H. Lists, Spain’s had only 2 U23 players — Pablo Carreno-Busta and Enrique Lopez-Perez — chart career highs, and France has had none.
Meanwhile, the United States has had Jack Sock, Buchanan and Fratangelo appear on the List, while Kudla himself is just five spots away from his career high at #95 this week. 21-year-old Ryan Harrison has been struggling mightily, but still sits just outside the Top 100 at #108. And 23-year-olds Bradley Klahn (#130 – 7 spots away from career high) and Austin Krajicek (#212 – 2 spots away) are knockin’ on the W.A.T.C.H. list’s door.
So perhaps the State of American Tennis isn’t so dire after all, despite what some fools may write.
*on this blog, on the day that you read it