Since there are seven challenger tourneys happening this week, there was bound to be some excellent written work in and around these events. And just in case you missed my tweets about them this week, herein in lies the very best of those.
First and definitely foremost comes this piece about Dominic Thiem’s crazy fitness coach, Sepp Resnik, and the wacky methods he uses to train the D(en)ominator.
If you do nothing else with your life, at the very least you must read this article — it’s truly that remarkable. (Oh, and here’s the article in its original German, if you like to dabble in Deutsch.) And I’d love it if you’d report back to me and tell me your thoughts about it in the comments.
Next up is this introspective, thoughtful and well-written blog post from Jason Jung. The ATP #396 — who’s had a very decent year at 42/22, and just fed Mitchell Krueger a double-breadstick today in Yeongwol — nicely and concisely conveys all the joy, doubt, beauty and pain of the weekly challenger tennis grind.
Similarly, this stellar article from Tennis East Coast shows us you don’t even have to go halfway around the world to have a lonely challenger experience. There are similar challenges to be faced even in a player’s home country. I love the bit about Pierre-Hugues Herbert, as I felt the same way the pros did.
And it truly is a shame that some of these events are so sparsely attended. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I can’t think of anywhere else you get as much bang for your entertainment buck as you can at a challenger or Futures tournament (and oftentimes you don’t even have to pay at all).
The players you see are bound to be just a few very small improvements away from the ATP Tour; oftentimes they’re just as talented, but don’t quite have their mental games or fitness focus where it needs to be. (And, because their mental games aren’t as strong, you get to see far more interesting meltdowns than you’d see at ATP level).
Plus you’re closer to the court than you’d normally be at an ATP tourney. If you’re a tennis fan, you truly owe it to yourself to check the calendar for tourneys in the area, and then go. The players, the tourneys and you yourself have everything to gain. Do it!
Lastly, Colette Lewis spotlights a few of the players you can see at such events in her October Aces column. Mitchell Frank was one of the players at the Charlottesville Challenger, Karen Khachanov made the quarterfinals of the Geneva Challenger this week, and Elias Ymer played the qualies at the Bratislava Challenger.