This far into the season, it’s time to dig deep — not just for the players, but for me as well, as this week’s W.A.T.C.H. List plumbs the depths of the rankings all the way down to #720 in the rankings.
As has been documented in previous Lists, as tournaments dwindle toward the end of the year, fewer guys are playing, which limits the potential career high ranking opportunities. In this week’s case, it’s limited to the following folk:
|Mohamed Safwat||EGY||23||198||others lost points|
|Roberto Ortega-Olmedo||ESP||22||331||Qatar F4 SF|
|Wilson Leite||BRA||22||371||Brazil F20 QF|
|Ivan Arenas-Guarda||ESP||23||392||others lost points|
|Michael Shabaz||USA||26||394||Qatar F4 F|
|Tihomir Grozdanov||BUL||26||399||Qatar F4 W|
|Oliver Golding||GBR||20||406||Qatar F4 SF|
|Erik Crepaldi||ITA||23||416||Turkey F49 SF|
|Karunuday Singh||IND||23||488||Cambodia F3 SF|
|Yoshihito Nishioka||JPN||18||503||Chile F11 W|
|Mateo Nicolas Martinez||ARG||19||581||others lost points|
|Jaime Pulgar-Garcia||ESP||24||583||others lost points|
|Frederico Ferreira Silva||POR||18||603||Turkey F49 R2|
|Eduardo Agustin Torre||ARG||19||674||Chile F11 SF|
|Markos Kalovelonis||GRE||19||689||others lost points|
|Marko Tepavac||SRB||19||716||others lost points|
|Andrea Basso||ITA||20||717||others lost points|
|Carlos Boluda-Purkiss||ESP||20||718||Qatar F4 R2|
|Herkko Pollanen||FIN||19||719||Turkey F49 R2|
|Adrian Partl||SVK||20||720||others lost points|
Before I zero in on some of these heroes, I come bearing the following bulletins:
1) If you’re someone who has backed into a personal best ranking by others losing points? Well then sorry, I won’t be doing a pro-file on you this (or any) week. *sniffs snobbishly*
2) If you made the final four at the Qatar F4? Well then congrats, ’cause you’ve got a career high ranking!
One of those Qatar Final Fourers is none other than former University of Virginia standout Michael Shabaz, who’s been bedeviled by illness and injury since making a professional splash as a finalist of the 2010 Charlottesville Challenger (as well as a popular participant of the 2010 USTA Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs).
The two-time NCAA champ (and 2005 Wimbledon Boys doubles titlist) was only able to play fourteen pro matches in 2011 and twenty-six matches in 2012 before finding this current run of health and form at the end of 2013, in what amounts to his first full professional season.
The only downside to all this good news is that he’ll have to update his website sometime soon.
Interestingly*, there are no teens career highing this week inside the Top 500, but there’s an abundance of them outside of it. And though this group didn’t make this year’s Players To Watch for 2014 list, I guarantee that more than one of the teens on this week’s W.A.T.C.H. List will be a future Top 100 player.
A strong candidate to be one of them there players is eighteen-year-old Yoshihito Nishioka. The 2012 US Open Boys semifinalist — who made an out-of-nowhere, Shabaz-like splash as an unranked sixteen-year-old finalist at the 2011 USA F28 Futures — has swept his ten Futures matches in Chile, taking home the F11 and F12 titles, which means (SPOILER ALERT) that the speedy southpaw will be on next week’s List as well.
The Chilean Futures titles are his second and third of 2013; he won the Mexico F3 Futures as a seventeen-year-old qualifier in February of this year, winning eight straight matches without losing a single set.
Were it not Christmas week, I’d do a pro-file of the other 18-year-old lefty on this week’s List, Frederico Silva. Instead you’ll have to settle for this picture of him with 2014 Player to Watch Number Three, Kyle Edmund, after taking home the French Open Boys Doubles crown:
And on that note… Merry Christmas, happy holidays, kwality Kwanzaa and festive Festivus to all! SYOTOS.
*to me at least