A belated Happy New Year to all! I hope and trust that your resolutions are alive and still kicking six days deep into 2014.

The new year, of course, marks the beginning of a new challenger season, with piping-fresh chally events on the docket for the first time since the Toyota, Tyumen and Andria Challengers in November of last year.

In addition to this past week’s Sao Paulo and Noumea tourneys, some challenger-level players sought to cut their teeth and/or gain their points at the ATP 250 level in Brisbane, Chennai, or Doha. 

All of which makes for more of a robust W.A.T.C.H. List than last week’s dismal outing, in which there were few point-gaining opportunities and most guys backed into their personal bests. So let’s see Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs this week, shall we?

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Pablo Carreno-Busta ESP 22 61 others lost points
Alejandro Gonzalez COL 24 74 Sao Paulo F
Oleksandr Nedovyesov UKR 26 92 others lost points
Bradley Klahn USA 23 95 Brisbane QR2
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 120 Sao Paulo QF
Peter Gojowczyk GER 24 136 Doha SF
Victor Estrella DOM 33 143 others lost points
Daniel Evans GBR 23 149 Doha Q
Sam Groth AUS 26 157 Brisbane QF
Radu Albot MDA 24 161 Chennai Q
Yuki Bhambri IND 21 172 Chennai QF
Steven Diez CAN 22 196 Noumea F
Pedro Sousa POR 25 199 Sao Paulo R2
James McGee IRL 26 214 Noumea SF
Ante Pavic CRO 24 238 Noumea R2
Kimmer Coppejans BEL 19 246 Noumea R2
Toni Androic CRO 22 271 others lost points
Juan Ignacio Londero ARG 20 276 others lost points
Yasutaka Uchiyama JPN 21 280 others lost points
Adrian Sikora SVK 25 286 others lost points
Edward Corrie GBR 25 298 others lost points

I’ll be focusing on Alejandro Gonzalez and others’ Sao Paulo Challenger exploits in my Week One Review article, so for now I’d like to focus on those who found their career-high-yielding success in Noumea. 

And more specifically, on Steven Diez and James McGee, the doubles partners and friends who battled in the New Caledonian heat for three hours, both emerging from their semifinal with a personal best ranking to show for their efforts.

Though each won exactly 111 points in the match, it was Diez who eked out a 6-7(2) 7-5 6-4 victory.  The pair lost in the 2nd round of the doubles to top seeds and eventual champions Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren.

Out With The Oldmea, In With The Noumea - Diez and McGee

Out With The Oldmea, In With The Noumea – Diez and McGee

For his part, Diez has been knocking at the Top 200’s door for well over a year now, achieving his previous career high of No. 210 in mid-July of 2013 before finally breaking the door down via his run to the Noumea final, where he was bested by top-seeded Colombian Alejandro Falla 6-2 6-2.

Dogged by inconsistency in throughout most of his career, the popular Spanadian — who spent the first six years of his life in Mississagua, Canada, before moving to Spain — has found a nice run of form in 2014 and finds himself in a great position to go higher, with very few points to defend from his 3/9 start to last year’s season.

As for McGee, the affable Irishman continues the positive trajectory he’s seen from 2013, a twelve-month span in which he rose from No. 401 to a then-career-high No. 220 in the rankings. Despite his success on the court, the 26-year-old still faces the same uphill financial battle off the court that he was so candid about last summer.

McGee Whiz - James After His 4-6 6-2 6-0 QF Win over Austin Krajicek

McGee Whiz – James After His 4-6 6-2 6-0 QF Win over Austin Krajicek

On his website, he recently offered an end-of-year update that features a lot of great photos from last season’s campaign.