Tag Archive: Lucas Pouille


My tenth and final Player to Watch pick for 2014 is bound to confound, surprise and possibly annoy. After all, there are so many worthy candidates, but only one more can be chosen. 

So. Could it be Lucas Pouille, the 19-year-old French lad who gained almost 250 places in the ATP rankings this year and for a brief time was the only teen in the Top 200 alongside 2014 Player to Watch number seven, Nick Kyrgios?

"Come on, you know it should be me!"

“Oui oui oui, it’s me me me!”

Or is it possibly Filip Peliwo, the 19-year-old Canadian former junior #1 who rose over 250 places in this years rankings and is now training in Spain with Galo Blanco?

"It's me, right?"

“It’s me, right?”

Since former US college players who are older than 22 are now allowed under the Colette Lewis amendment of 2013, will it be Tennys Sandgren, the 22-year-old University of Tennessee standout whom we last saw winning the Champaign Challenger and improving his 2013 ranking by almost 50 places?

"Looking for the final PTW pick? Look no further than this guy, right here!"

“Lookin’ for your final PTW pick? Look no further than this guy, right here!”

Howzabout Karen Khachanov, the Russian 17-year-old who shocked the world by making the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 Kremlin Cup, beating Janko Tipsarevic along the way, and raising his ranking a mere 1,458 places this season?

"Da da da!"

Da da da!”

Or Karim Hossam, the 19-year-old Egyptian who climbed over 800 ranking rungs in 2013 and won four Egyptian Futures titles?

"If it's not me, I will clobber you!"

“If it’s not me, I will clobber you!”

The answers: Non. No. Nope. Nyet. And sorry, Karim.

Nay, this year’s final Player to Watch is someone for whom I’ve shamelessly bent my own arbitrary rules, including him even though he’s ranked inside the original “between #150 and #500 in the world” criterion I established for original PTW selection.

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As I was putting together a database of Challenger and Futures players in the Top 500, I compiled just about every available piece of info I could find. And I found that one of the more interesting data fields came from the players’ “Personal Interests”, as listed on their ITF Biography Pages.

If you’ve ever tried researching players outside the Top 200, you’ll probably know how hard it is to dig up any info other than results for said players.  While a large majority of the Top 200 enjoy a lavish paragraph or two on the ATP’s “Personal” profile tab*, often the only sense one can get of a tenniser’s multi-dimensionality comes from this part of their ITF page.

Now, a lot of these interests are fairly drab or predictable; almost 50% of players list either soccer or football, for example.  Or 15% list “golf”, for another. But some are interesting and unique enough that they bear special mention, which is what I’ll do in this post, expertly dividing them into neat-o sub-categories such as:

Lotharios

A few players naturally list “girls” as one of their personal interests (although, predictably, none list them as “women”) — Marton Fucsovics and Brydan Klein among them (insert your own joke here).

That Ball's About To Be Fucsed Up

That Ball’s About To Be Fucsed Up

But only two (2) (TWO!) players list them as “girls!” with an exclamation point: Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri and Israel’s Dudi Sela. If you’ve been following the news, you will find that to be either a remarkable coincidence or Proof Once And For All of God’s Unquestionable Existence.

Oh, and there’s one (very smart) player who knows on what side his croissant is buttered, and that’s Lucas Pouille. Because instead of “girls” or “girls!”, the 19-year-old Frenchman has: “Girlfriend.” Period.

"Ooh la la -- I know how zee croissant is butTAIRED"

“Ooh la la — I know how zee croissant is butTAIRED”

Moldovans

As with Jaziri and Sela, I noticed that Moldovans like ATP #171 Radu Albot and #379 Maxim Dubarenco are the only people who list “walking with friends” as a favored activity.  Not “hanging out with friends” or “visiting with friends” – walking with friends.  Actually, Albot is even more exclusive than Dubarenco is, as he wrote “walking with best friends”.

Maximum Velocity

Maximum Velocity

Are you merely a good friend to Radu? Or are you a best friend? Find out by seeing if he walks with you!

This Moldovan pattern is either further proof of a Universal Order, or just an indication that the Moldovans copied off of each other’s ITF profile questionnaires when they filled them out.

Scholars

In this increasingly digital age, where 1/4th of all players list one of “internet”, “computer” or “video games” as a main interest, it’s becoming rare to find readers on the tour.

Thus, I am singling out for special commendation Ricardas Berankis, Alejandro Falla, Andrey Golubev (who, in also listing “playing chess” as a favored pursuit, wins the title of Ultra-Nerd) and Uladzimir Ignatik.

"Hi, I'm Andrey Golubev! Have You Ever Read A Book Called "Hitting Back"?

“Hi, I’m Andrey Golubev! Have you ever read a book called “Hitting Back“?

Kimmer Coppejans lists “Manga” as an interest — that’s a kind of Japanese comic book, so I’ll give him half-credit.

Adventurers

One of the few luxuries of being outside the Top 100, I suppose, is that insurance clauses on multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements won’t limit you from your favorite, possibly career-ending adrenalized adventure pursuits.  Yay?

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Whaddup, Halloweenies! It’s time for a very spoooooky edition of the W.I.T.C.H. List*. So follow me, and let’s see Whose Increased Their Career Highs this week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High
Michal Przysiezny POL 29 65
Tim Smyczek USA 25 84
Oleksandr Nedovyesov UKR 26 99
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 137
James Duckworth AUS 21 147
Marco Cecchinato ITA 21 159
Radu Albot MDA 23 164
Blaz Rola SLO 23 179
Lucas Pouille FRA 19 184
John-Patrick Smith AUS 24 207
Miloslav Mecir SVK 25 211
Mohamed Safwat EGY 23 225
Lorenzo Giustino ITA 22 232
Daniel Cox GBR 23 245
Chase Buchanan USA 22 271
Aslan Karatsev RUS 20 286
Jose Hernandez DOM 23 287
Egor Gerasimov BLR 20 290
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan IND 25 305
Adrian Sikora SVK 25 308
Tak Khunn Wang FRA 22 318

Do you see what I see?  I know!  Pick yourself up off the floor so we can discuss this: there’s only one Argie on this week’s List!  If that’s not a sure sign of the impending apocalypse, then I’m not sure what is.

Another cursory glance will yield yet another mind-blowing realization: that’s right, it’s not an apparition — at long last, Nick Kyrgios is no longer the only teen in the Top 200! Thanks to Lucas Pouille’s semifinal showing at the Kazan Challenger, the French teen creeeps up 22 rungs on the rankings ladder to #184.

When I wrote my scarily amazing Which Teen(s) Will Make The Top 200 Before Turning 20** article six weeks ago, I said that it was reasonable to expect that Pouille would join Kyrgios in the Top 200 soon (Lucas was #202 at the time). But honestly, I didn’t think it’d be this long. I mean, jeez, Lucas, get a move on.

"Ooh la la -- I finally made it to zee Top 200!"

“Ooh la la — I finally made it to zee Top 200!”

According to his ATP Profile, Lucas enjoys fashion, shopping, and hanging out with friends, so it seems Halloween is the perfect day for him — he can dress up in costumes and go door to door with his pals looking for bargain candy offerings. Course, he might have to do it while at this week’s Geneva Challenger. But they do celebrate Halloween there, don’t they?

Another name that catches my eye is 20-year-old Aslan Karatsev. The Russian roars his way up 30 slots to number 286 on Ye Olde Rankings Liste due to his quarterfinal showing in Kazan. He is now the 11th-best-ranked player under 21 years of age on the ATP Tour. What does this all mean? Who knows. Remember: while you’re trying to read the tea leaves, others are just enjoying their tea.

Karatsev

Karatsev

*warning: words may occasionally be orange for no good reason

**Should be “Witch Teens”, of course

Which Teen(s) Will Make The Top 200 Before Turning 20?

Today’s post finds me musing about teens in the Top 200.  As you tennis geniuses (genii?) probably already know, the average age of the Top 100 keeps on rising and rising (it currently sits at 27ish). Today, men over 30 are reaping tremendous results on the ATP World Tour, and gone are the days of the Beckers (Boris, not Benji), the Kricksteins, and the Ariases (Arii?) bashing their way into the Top 20 whilst still comfortably in their teens.

As of this writing, there is only one teen in the Top 200 — the 18-year-old Australian wunderkind Nick Kyrgios at #188.  Dominic Thiem almost joined him for a spell, but turned 20 just six days before hitting the T200*.  19-year-old Lucas Pouille of France is poised right on the cusp of Top 200dom at #202.  It seems reasonable to expect the Frenchman will join Kyrgios soon, and probably well before he turns 20 on the 23rd of February, 2014.

Which leads me to wonder: which teen(s) do you think have what it takes to make it and join Nick and (possibly) Lucas before he turns 20?  Will it be:

Peli-WHOA!

Filip It And Reverse It

Filip Peliwo – the Boys’ US Open and Wimbledon champion and junior #1 (on 7-Sept 2012) has been adjusting fairly well to life on the pro circuit, with a 29/19 record, a challenger semifinal (Lexington) and a Futures final to his name this year.  At ATP #283, he has a ways to go to make the Top 200, and just over four months to do it. On the plus side, he only has 7 ATP points coming off between now and then. The gregarious Canadian will turn 20 on the 30th of January, 2014.  Odds of making it: 14%

Kimmer, Kimmer, Chicken Dinner

Kimmer, Kimmer, Chicken Dinner

Kimmer Coppejans – the Belgian 19-year-old was the Junior #1 just a couple of months before Peliwo grabbed the top spot, and beat the Canadian to claim the 2012 Roland Garros Boys title. Kimmer’s also having a better year than Filip, at 41/18 with a Challenger SF (Meknes) and 5 Futures titles on his 2013 CV.  He’s now ranked just 10 rungs below Peliwo at #293, but he has almost 10 days more to get into Top 200ville; his 20th birthday falls on the 7th of February, 2014. And he has precisely 0 (zero) ATP points coming off his ranking before then.  Just last month he said his end-of-year goal was to make the Top 300.  Methinks he needs a new goal. Odds of making it: 27%

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