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