Archive for March, 2014


Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! As a tribute to this special holiday, I’ve turned the Challenger Tennis site green. I do hope you like it.

So let’s have a look at Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs this week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Bradley Klahn USA 23 63 others lost points
Kenny de Schepper FRA 26 66 others lost points
Jiri Vesely CZE 20 73 Indian Wells R3
Alexandr Nedovyesov KAZ 27 78 others lost points
Dominic Thiem AUT 20 86 Indian Wells R3
Dusan Lajovic SRB 23 89 Indian Wells Q
Norbert Gombos SVK 23 164 Kazan QF
Farrukh Dustov UZB 27 166 Kazan SF
Albano Olivetti FRA 22 173 Kazan QF
John-Patrick Smith AUS 25 198 IW Q/Irving FQR
Andrea Collarini ARG 22 205 others lost points
David Souto VEN 21 214 others lost points
Lorenzo Giustino ITA 22 215 Spain F4 SF/F5 F
Ante Pavic CRO 25 229 others lost points
Kimmer Coppejans BEL 20 232 Turkey F5 QF/F6 F
Jarmere Jenkins USA 23 235 others lost points
Axel Michon FRA 23 238 Kazan R2
Jose Checa-Calvo ESP 28 239 others lost points
Daniel Cox GBR 23 243 GBR F6 QF
Emilio Gomez ECU 22 249 others lost points
Juan Ignacio Londero ARG 20 253 others lost points
Saketh Myneni IND 26 258 India F2 W
Daniel Smethurst GBR 23 270 Canada F1 W

The ultra-observant will notice that, in some cases, two different results appear on the “Why” axis of this week’s table. That’s because the ATP 1000 Native American Wells event runs two weeks* and so a double dose of results is accounted for in the ATP’s current rankings totals.

You also may have noted that a pair of 20-year-olds made semi-deep dips into the Wells this past week**. The Vessel, Jiri Vesely, put a scare into Andy Murray before succumbing in three sets in the third round, while The Denominator Dominic Thiem went out a trifle more meekly in R3 to Julian Benneteau.  All in all, a good and full-of-fruit two weeks for both, since they also got diplomas from ATP University yesterday.

ATP University Scholars

ATP University Scholars (back row, L to R: Bradley Klahn, Alejandro Gonzalez, Thomas Fabbiano, Alexandr Nedovyesov, Marcelo Demoliner, Marton Fucsovics, Jiri Vesely. Front row, L to R: Guillaume Rufin, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Guilherme Clezar, Dominic Thiem)

In interesting news of the more aged, 27-year-old father-of-three Farrukh Dustov has made a helluvan effort to push past a previous career high that was established nearly seven years ago in April of 2007. The 6’4” (193 cm) Uzbek with the booming serve has been hampered by injuries for the past three years, but is up nine spots to a new career high as a result of his Kazan Challenger semifinal showing.

Dust Storms His Way Into Three Straight Semis

Dust Storms His Way Into Three Straight Semis

After a two-loss start to 2014, Dustov has been the picture of consistency, reaching the semis of Astana, Cherbourg and Kazan in his last three tourneys. The 11-year pro still has his sights set on the Top 100, and at #166 is now one of the few Top 200 players whose professional ranking has eclipsed his ITF junior high mark.

One of the guys who has a two-week tally of results is JP Smith. The 25-year-old Aussie and former University of Tennessee standout had a good couple of qualifying weeks in Palm Springs and Irving — although he failed to capitalize on being up a break twice in the deciding set of his FQR match vs. Jimmy Wang in Irving — and thus finds himself up 21 spots in the rankings, breaking into the Top 200 for the very first time in his career.

JP Smith (photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis)

JP Smith (photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis)

Another rankings fortnight is now upon us, as the ATP 1000 Masters event in Miami gets underway today and takes us through the next 13 days, during which time the Rimouski, Panama City, Barranquilla and Guadalajara Challengers will also take place (as well as a zillion or so Futures events).

So we’ll see you again on the 31st of March with another stunning edition of the W.A.T.C.H. List.***

*really a week and 5/7ths

**In which case, bully for you.

***And maybe even publish another article or two before then. But no promises.

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Another week, another W.A.T.C.H. List. So let’s see Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs this week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Bradley Klahn USA 23 64 others lost points
Kenny de Schepper FRA 26 67 Cherbourg W
Aleksandr Nedovyesov KAZ 27 79 others lost points
Dustin Brown GER 29 89 Cherbourg QF
Victor Estrella DOM 33 99 Salinas W
Blaz Rola SLO 23 128 Guangzhou W
Norbert Gombos SVK 23 166 Cherbourg F
Lucas Pouille FRA 20 173 Cherbourg QF
Andrea Arnaboldi ITA 26 177 others lost points
Albano Olivetti FRA 22 179 Cherbourg QF
Andrea Collarini ARG 22 207 Salinas F
Jarmere Jenkins USA 23 241 Australia F1 W
Emilio Gomez ECU 22 254 Salinas SF
Juan Ignacio Londero ARG 20 257 Salinas QF
Yasutaka Uchiyama JPN 21 273 Australia F1 SF
Jose Pereira BRA 23 277 Salinas QF
Borna Coric CRO 17 289 Croatia F2 SF
Andres Artunedo Martinavarro ESP 20 293 Portugal F3 W
Dennis Novak AUT 20 303 Egypt F6 W
Daniel Smethurst GBR 23 305 Great Britian F5 W

I do enjoy it when all the week’s CHamps make the List. It hardly ever works out that way, but all three of this past week’s events — the €64,000 Cherbourg Challenger, the $50,000 Guangzhou Challenger and the $40,ooo Salinas Challenger — have titlists on a career ascendancy.

Which is especially impressive in the case of 33-year-old Victor Estrella, who has had a breakout month after kicking around the Top 300 for the past six years or so, reaching the Top 100 for the first time and becoming the first Dominican Republican* to do so.

Sweet Victor-y (photo via naciondeporiva.com)

Sweet Victor-y (photo via Michael Monegro at naciondeporiva.com)

In Estrella’s past month he’s gone 12/2 at the challenger level, getting progressively better at each tourney. He made the semis in Dallas (losing to Steve Johnson) and the finals in Morelos (l. Gerald Melzer) before finally taking the Salinas title last week, increasing his ranking 38 spots from No. 137 on the 3rd of February exactly one month ago.

Meanwhile, Blaz Rola, more commonly known as my fifth Player to Watch for 2014, rebounded from a tough Indian Swing with a new coach — during which he went 2/3 at Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi — by grabbing the Guangzhou trophy. The 23-year-old Slovenian, by way of THE Ohio State University, continues to cut a swath through the rankings table, having begun the year at No. 185.

Rola Rocks His Way to the Guangzhou Title (d. Yuichi Sugita)

Rola Rocks His Way to the Guangzhou Title (d. Yuichi Sugita)

Cherbourg champ Kenny de Schepper has also come a long way from the days when we (sort of) watched him in the finals of the 2011 Great Britain F1 Futures event.

The Schepper in His Scotstoun Days - Head And Schoulders Above the Rest

The Schepper in His Scotstoun Days – Head And Schoulders Above the Rest

His win lifts the 6′ 8” (203 cm) lefty 17 spots in this week’s rankings, tying a Career High set September of last year.

Not to be overlooked is the man de Schepper vanquished in the final:

Norbert! Gombos!

Norbert! Gombos!

Because: Norbert Gombos!

Lastly, I don’t want to overlook the efforts of the last man on today’s table, Mr. Daniel Smethurst, as he’s had a truly tremendous 2014 campaign thus far. The 23-year-old Brit has gone 22/3 this season, making the finals of all 5 events he’s entered in 2014 and taking two titles.

So Good It Hurst

So Good It Hurst

I’ve been a Smethurst advocate since I saw him in worldbeater mode at the 2011 USA F2 Futures in Tamarac, FL, against another Challenger Tennis fave, Marcos Giron. At the time, I wrote: “I can’t really see how he’s not a Top 250 player already. He’s certainly got the ability.”**

Well, he’s now on his way.  Clearly ready to make the jump to the next level, he’s already proved his worth at challies, most recently with a singles semifinalist showing at the Champaign Challenger this past November. Can’t wait to see how he does from here.

*or Democrat, for that matter. /obvious joke that I’ve made before

**double negatives FTW!

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