Hola, Challenger Tennis fans! Apologies for the lateness of this week’s List, but I’ve been having some health challenges lately that have rendered writing sub-optimal of late. I have so many articles planned (and a couple half-written already), so please bear with me and hopefully this blog will bear more fruit sometime soon.

In the meantime, let’s have a look at Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs this week, shall we?**

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Bradley Klahn USA 23 65 others lost points
Aleksandr Nedovyesov KAZ 27 81 New Delhi F
Dusan Lajovic SRB 23 89 ATP 500 Rio Q/R2
Facundo Bagnis ARG 23 112 ATP 500 Rio Q/R2
Victor Estrella DOM 33 118 Morelos F
Blaz Rola SLO 23 151 New Delhi R2
Gerald Melzer AUT 23 153 Morelos W
Radu Albot MDA 24 160 New Delhi QF
Lucas Pouille FRA 20 184 New Delhi QF
Daniel Cox GBR 23 243 New Delhi Q
Adrian Sikora SVK 25 275 others lost points
Kyle Edmund GBR 19 276 Croatia F1 W
Emilio Gomez ECU 22 290 others lost points
Gabriel Alejandro Hidalgo ARG 23 314 Argentina F3 W
Dennis Novak AUT 20 332 Egypt F5 W
Nicolas Meister USA 24 339 Morelos QF
Oliver Golding GBR 20 354 Portugal F2 SF
Jason Jung USA 24 355 Morelos R2
Alexey Vatutin RUS 21 378 Astana Q
Markus Eriksson SWE 24 393 Spain F2 SF
Stanislav Vovk RUS 23 409 Portugal F2 W

The first player I’d like to talk about is Gerald Melzer, who is one of five 23-year-olds in the Top Seven of this week’s List (in addition to the amazing Victor Estrella, who is Achieving Career Highs a decade further into his career than all these whippersnappers, and Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who is 23 anyway per the Colette Lewis Collegiate Clause of 2014***).

He is also the younger brother of Jurgen Melzer, of course. And since Gerald is +42 in this week’s rankings while his older bro dropped two spots — in addition to the fact that Jojo has been sidelined with a shoulder injury and has yet to play in 2014 (he signed up to play in Acapulco but withdrew, and last played on the 9th of October, 2013) — I’m wondering when/if sometime in the future the Minimelz eclipses Melz the Maxi in the rankings.

"Yo, Bro, if you pass me in the rankings I'll shove this ball down your throat."

“Yo, Bro, if you pass me in the rankings I’ll shove this ball down your throat.” – /expert lip reading

So much so that I’m making it a contest. That’s right: either in the comments here or on Twitter, give me the exact date upon which you think Gerald will overtake Jurgen in the rankings (or “never” if you don’t think it’ll ever happen). The person who ends up having the best/nearest guess will get to choose my Twitter avatar that week.

What a prize! What a contest! So get to guessing.

Speaking of Austrian tennis… Dennis Novak, the forgotten (or heretofore unknown) Günter Bresnik-coached cog of the Gulbis-Thiem-Dubarenco machine, took the fourth Futures title of his career at the Sharm El Sheikh event and proclaimed himself “super happy”. He’s is now 3 ranking spots ahead of Dubarenco, so remember him!

The Number Two Novak Accepts His Bounty

Tennis’s Number Two Novak Accepts His Bounty

Novak also won Egypt F6 (SPOILER ALERT), so will be on next week’s List as well.  Oh, and if you’re confused by all of tennis’s Dennises, I wrote this oh-so-handy field guide so that you will no longer be baffled by the difference between Dennis Novak, Dennis Novikov and Dennis Nevolo. You’re welcome.

And all that being typed, never mind the Austrians – how ’bout dem Brits?! The mighty GBR boasts 3 spots on the List this week, more than any other nation other than the also-mighty USA. Kyle Edmund, one of my Players to Watch for 2014, has a 14/2 record on the season thus far (and I was there for one of the losses, to Victor Crivoi in the USA F3 final at Weston, FL  — Kedders no doubt reeling from his exhausting pre-match interview with yours truly. Sorry GB!).

Meanwhile, Daniel Cox — who was one of my PTWs in 2011 — is 9/5 on the year, and I didn’t jinx him with pre-match interviews in any of those. Since it’s all about me. Anyway, with Cox and Edmund now solidly #4 & #5 in Britannia (and Oliver Golding nipping at their heels), captain Leon Smith now has many solid DC backup options beyond the Murray/Evans/Ward combination.

Emerging From the Fog of the Lowerly Ranked: It's Daniel Cox!

Emerging from the British Fog of the Lowerly Ranked: It’s Daniel Cox!

Lastly, I’m glad the W.A.T.C.H. List has 20 players, traditionally, because that allows me to include Stanislav Vovk in this week’s collection. The 23-year-old Russian is 10/1 this year (his only loss to Golding), 25/6 in his last 31 matches and is undoubtedly the best instagrammer in all of tennis. You really need to follow him if you don’t already.

Stan Shopping in the Sports Nutrition Aisle

Stan Shopping in the Sports Nutrition Aisle

(Actually I cheated and made it 21 guys on the List this week, just so I can include Stan. He’s that good, people!)

*Since none of you are paying for this, haha.

**I mean, I know you’ve already looked at some of these by now, but I bet you haven’t looked this far into the rankings.

***which states that the pro age of any guy who played college tennis = his real age – the number of years he played college ball.