The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, people. That’s right: it’s PTW Season.

Today marks the first installment in a ten-day series during which, once a day, I’ll attempt to steer your attention toward a player who bears close watching in the upcoming tennis year, as said player is poised for great things.  Before I tell you about our first selection, let me tell you a bit about the ground rules and how players were selected/rejected for this staggering honor.

I started with a list of 50 players who are all under 22-years-old and ranked between ATP #150-500. As such, very good candidates were eliminated right from the get-go. Jiri Vesely? He sure does bear watching in 2014, but since he’s already ranked #85, he’s already more or less transcended the Challenger ranks.

In Czech Republic, Vesely Watches YOU

In Czech Republic, Vesely Watches YOU

Pierre-Hugues Herbert? A fantastic prospect who I plan on watching very closely this coming season. But at age 22, he’s far too over the hill for a list of young up-and-comers such as this.

He Wrote: "On March 18, I Turned 22 And Became Too Old for PTW Honors."

Hard to Read, But He(rbert) Wrote: “On March 18, I Turned 22 And Became Too Old for PTW Honors.”

Thanasi Kokkinakis? Yeah, I’ll probably spend most of 2014 ruing his exclusion from this list, as he likely world-beats his way to the top.  But he’s currently outside the Top 500 (#624, to be exact). And if he doesn’t Vesel his way into the Top 100 this year, odds are he’ll be my top pick next year.

In order to have a place to even begin, we must have at least a few limitations, folks. And the “Under 22, ranked #150-500” model is the one I traditionally use. So if it ain’t broke…*

Continue reading