Tag Archive: Facundo Mena


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

W.T.Facu Bagnis

W.T.Facu 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 Spectacularly Coiffed Facundo Arguello

The Spectacularly Coiffed Facundo Arguello

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-cing

Mena-cing

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!

Alvo Anywhere

Alvo Anywhere

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!

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[Angry author’s note: I had this article written and set to upload 7 hours ago, but then this damned blizzard we’re having blew out my cable and internet so I couldn’t post it. Now it looks like I missed Day 7 of my 12 Days of Christmas, but I didn’t miss it!  I was ready, I swear! Anyway, I’ll have another set of profiles up later today. Weather permitting, of course.]

Probably the most daunting challenge I encountered when assembling this year’s Watch list was figuring out which of the Argentinians to include. Or – more to the point – which ones not to include. So many Argies, so little time; how do I choose just one? (One was my arbitrary limit, based on absolutely nothing at all.)

It’s hard to limit it to just ten, for that matter. I know it’s a Captain Obvious kind of thing to say, but it’s just staggering how many quality clay court grinders are churned out by Argentina’s player-producing machinery. Federico Del Bonis, Facundo Bagnis, Guido Pella, Facundo Arguello, Diego Schwartzman, Marco Trungelliti, Nicolas Pastor, Agustin Velotti, Renzo Olivo, and on and on. Every single one of them under 21 years of age and heading for the Top 200 (if they’re not there already).

And they’ve all beaten up on one another at some point, so it’s nearly impossible to pick out the Alpha Argie among them, for the most part (surprising fact, though: it’s Marco Trungelliti who has by far the best W/L record vs. the others from the above-listed group – an impressive 11/2. This fact becomes less surprising when you realize he’s also the oldest in that group, sometimes by over two years, and has spent a good deal of time puttin’ a whoopin’ on the young ‘uns. Let’s check back in on those H2H’s a few years down the road and see how that record’s held up, eh?)

You know what would be absolutely amazing? I’ll tell you: if there were a Tennis Australia-style, livestreamed wildcard playoff for Argentina’s nueva legion, competing in a round robin tournament (not the single elimination draw TA did this year) for a spot in the French Open. I would pay good money to see that happen.

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, the Delbo would get into the French main draw directly via ranking (it could happen) (plus we gotta make some Delbo room in my hypothetical scenario) and you threw the other 8 into a two-group round-robin tourney. Who do you think would be the eventual WC winner? Answer me that, Argiephiles!

Anyway, back to the problem at hand. Which to choose? Heck, it’s difficult to limit myself to just one Facundo – never mind one Argie. (And on that count, I’m tempted to pick Facundo Mena just ’cause he has a ridiculously wristy forehand like mine, but he’s not even in the Top Thousand yet, so that will have to wait.)

It would also be tempting to just be lazy and pick one of the highest ranked among them – Del Bonis, at #160 and Bagnis (#242) lead the way in that category – but closer inspection reveals that the three players who began the year ranked the highest among the young guns (Guido Pella being the third) (and all three lefties, by the way) arguably struggled more than anyone this year.

Sure, Delbo won the Rome-2 Challenger, and was a finalist at Napoli and Rimini (Italy must be full of tailors, as it really suited him), but he just went 34/27 on the year and only picked up an additional 35 ranking spots. Certainly not the kind of breakout year I was expecting from him.

Federico Del Bonis

Pella’s year was borderline disastrous, as he dropped over 100 places in the rankings on the heels of a 26/22 year.

 

Guido Pella

Of the three, Bagnis was the most successful, but that’s damning with faint praise, to be honest.  Thanks to a season-ending win at the Brazil F36 Futures, Bagnis ended his season on a high note, and his 5 straight wins to take the title pushed his 2010 W/L record to a far more decent-looking 37/29. But apart from a run to the finals at the Bytom Challenger, during which he scored victories against Martin Klizan, Marius Copil and Matthias Bachinger before succumbing to Pere Riba, even Facu didn’t really do as much as I had anticipated from him.

Facundo Bagnis

I have to say, I was kind of fascinated by Marco Trungelliti’s year; he’s really come on strong, and out of relative obscurity. The almost-21-year-old “veteran” of this crew had no junior success to speak of (his ranking high was #630), but he finished this year at a brisk 16/5 pace, which certainly caught my attention. That said, his 35/18 season only amounted to a gain of 45 spots in the rankings, up to #429 from #474. I remain unconvinced, but I’ll be keeping my eye on him for sure.

So that left me with five from which to pick: Arguello, Schwartzman, Velotti, Olivo, and Pastor – all of them under 20 years old, the youngest of the young guns. Olivo, at 18 years old (and 9 months), gained the second-most ranking ground this year, racing up to #618 from a starting point of #1,125. A former #8 junior (and by “former”, I mean April of this year), he won the Bolivia F4 futures in addition to his QF Boys showings at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. But he’s still a year or so off, I think, from my being able to tout him as a Player to Watch.

Renzo Olivo and El Mago Guillermo Coria

Pastor – who’s coached by Javier Nalbandian, brother of a certain someone you might have heard of (hint: his name rhymes with “Shmavid”) – and Schwartzman have very similar resumes, both for this year and for their careers. The 18 year olds largely eschewed the junior tourneys and have focused on the pros; both made the finals of three Futures events this year and gained a lot of ground in 2010. But, as with Olivo, I feel they’re just a bit too raw for me to feel comfortable putting my 2011 PTW betting chips on their names.

Diego Schwartzman

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The Futures Are The Future

Or the present. Or something. Either way, I have it on good authority.

Because, believe it or don’t, there are still three $10,000 ITF Futures tourneys taking place this week, so deep into the so-called “off season”. They are:

Chile F9: like last week’s Chile F8, this one is also happening in Concepcion, albeit at a different club. So: travel savings ahoy for the players, I guess!  The top seed for this particular shindig is 21-year-old Chilean Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz, owner of a #361 singles ranking, a nifty 44-14 win/loss record, and even niftier personal interests; according to his ITF bio, he enjoys “Cycling Singing”, you see.

Now, I’m not sure if this means singing while riding a bicycle or if it means he likes the kind of singing that goes in a round, like when one person starts singing, “Row row row your boat,” and then another person starts in with a “row row row” rendition while the first singer has continued gently down the stream.  Either way, it’s bound to be a fascinating tournament. 

Other entrants include: 20 y/o Chilean up-and-comer Christobal Saavedra-Corvalan, the musically-named former #20 combined junior in the world, who defeated 2nd seed Roberto Ortega-Olmedo handily, 6-2 6-3 in the first round; 8th seeded Tandilese Nicolas Pastor, the Chile F7 finalist, who beat Martin Rios-Benitez 6-7(0) 6-1 6-4 in R1; 7th seeded Roland Garros Boys’ champ Agustin Velotti; and the even-more-musically named Joaquin-Jesus Monteferrario, the Argentinian 6th seed who beat Chile’s Nicolas Gustavo Kauer 6-4 0-6 6-3.

Brazil F37: Jeez, just how many F’s per year does Brazil get anyway? (A: 38) They’ll be lucky if they don’t have to attend summer school over the holidays.  Anyway, this ‘un takes place in Guarulhos, a suburb of Sao Paulo. Featured future luminaries include (but may not be limited to): Second seeded Daniel Silva of Brazil, who is the de facto top seed now that erstwhile top-seed Argie Facundo Bagnis had to withdraw.  Silva, a 22-year-old lefty ranked #315 in the world (and formerly ranked #18 in juniors), defeated yet another Argentinian up-and-comer (how many are there anyway?) (A: 38), 18 y/o Facundo Mena 6-1 7-6(4) in the first round; last week’s Brazil F36 finalist Eduardo Ribeiro-Neto, who meets Brazil’s Ciao Nunez in R1; and last week’s Brazil F36 semi-finalist Danilo Ferraz, the Brazilian 8th seed who took out Marcos Remondegui 3&3 today.

Cuba F1: Cuba’s first and last Futures tourney of the year, which takes place in Havana. Top seed Victor Estrella of the Dominican Republic is looking to complete an inspired end-season run, coming into the tournament having won 15 straight matches and 3 straight tourneys.  A good showing here would put the 30 year old into the Top 200 for the first time in his career.  Estrella actually outranks the second seed Julien Dubail of Belgium by almost 300 places on the ATP Rankings list.  So I think Estrella has a pretty good shot at doing this.  But I’ll keep you posted.

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