Seemingly everywhere you look on the Challenger Tour, there’s a Facundo awaiting your gaze. From challenger draws to W.A.T.C.H. Lists to social media, if there’s one thing life on the second- and third-best tiers of tennis teaches you, it’s that Argentina has an abundance of Facundos. But just how many are there? And are they a threat to tennis’s top tier? These questions I shall answer for you, dear reader, in this field guide to Facundos past, present and Futures.
First, have a seat somewhere. Are you sitting down? Because it may just shock you off your fickle feet to learn that there are sixteen (16) (!) Facundos that either play or have played on the ATP Tour. All from Argentina (apparently they don’t make Facundos anywhere else).
BUT DON’T PANIC: only seven of them are currently active on tour, while a couple more are kicking around the juniors. It’s still a lot, but it’s manageable. Get your field glasses ready, because it’s time to have a look.
Facundo #1: Facundo Bagnis
23-year-old lefty Facundo Bagnis is (by just a little bit) the best Facundo ever to have played, with a current and career-high ranking of ATP #143. The three-time Challenger champ (Barranquilla ’11, Arad ’12 and Santiago ’13) from Rosario, Argentina has a solid 39/23 record this season after struggling last year.
Though he’s yet to break through at the ATP level in singles, he did take an ATP title in doubles (Stuttgart ATP 250 with Thomaz Bellucci) and is ranked #79, with four challenger doubles crowns.
Propects: with some continued hard work, I don’t see any reason Bagnis won’t make the Top 100 in his career, though I feel like Top 50 might be somewhat less attainable.
Facundo #2: Facundo Arguello
Though Facu #2 is currently the number two Facu, I predict that 21-year-old Facundo Arguello will hit higher heights than his first-Facu’ed countryman. Ranked just behind Bagnis at a career high ATP #150, the aggressive, gruntacular righty was once a Top 10 junior, and he’s had virtually no trouble adjusting to the pro-tennis level.
The truco-playing, clay-loving competitor is 35/19 on the year, after a 41/24 campaign in 2012. Though he has yet to score a Challenger title, he has made the finals of four events, the most recent of which being Savannah, where he took out Tim Smyczek, Michael Russell and Donald Young before succumbing to Ryan Harrison in the finals.
Prospects: I’d be surprised if Arguello didn’t make the Top 50. (Full disclosure: he was also one of my 2011 Players to Watch.)
Facundo #3: Facundo Mena
The prospects might not be as bright for this Facundo, who’s currently ranked ATP #514 (career high #496) at age 21, but he’s a Facundo, dammit, and he needs to be acknowledged! And there are plenty of late bloomers on tour, for that matter.
Mena is a decent 31/18 on the season, after posting finalist showings in consecutive Futures (Chile F5 and F6). The wristy right-hander only started playing at age thirteen, and he has plenty of time to grow into (or out of) his somewhat unconventional strokes.
Prospects: partly cloudy with a 20% chance of Top 100.
Bonus Facundo: Facundo Alvo
I told you there were some wee Facundos kickin’ around the junior ranks, and so I bring to you — at no extra cost — this bonus Facundo: Facundo Alvo, a Facundo of the future!
The #4 junior in Argentina, 17-year-old Facundo Alvo beat 15-year-old American sensation Stefan Kozlov and took top-ranked Argieboy Pedro Cachin to a 5-7 third set in the Copa Milo 2013 final in February. More recently, he’s been trying his hand at the pro tour level — even notching a win against yet another Facundo (Facundo Jofre) at the Argentina F17 Futures last month. So that’s something, no?
Also, how great is it when your Bonus Facundo has flowing, Leif Garrett locks? I love it when that happens!
Prospects: I have no idea.
Well, that wraps up this week’s field guide. Now go forth into the world with a newfound confidence that can only come from fully knowing your Facundos!