Tag Archive: Victor Estrella


Another week, another W.A.T.C.H. List. So let’s see Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs this week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Bradley Klahn USA 23 64 others lost points
Kenny de Schepper FRA 26 67 Cherbourg W
Aleksandr Nedovyesov KAZ 27 79 others lost points
Dustin Brown GER 29 89 Cherbourg QF
Victor Estrella DOM 33 99 Salinas W
Blaz Rola SLO 23 128 Guangzhou W
Norbert Gombos SVK 23 166 Cherbourg F
Lucas Pouille FRA 20 173 Cherbourg QF
Andrea Arnaboldi ITA 26 177 others lost points
Albano Olivetti FRA 22 179 Cherbourg QF
Andrea Collarini ARG 22 207 Salinas F
Jarmere Jenkins USA 23 241 Australia F1 W
Emilio Gomez ECU 22 254 Salinas SF
Juan Ignacio Londero ARG 20 257 Salinas QF
Yasutaka Uchiyama JPN 21 273 Australia F1 SF
Jose Pereira BRA 23 277 Salinas QF
Borna Coric CRO 17 289 Croatia F2 SF
Andres Artunedo Martinavarro ESP 20 293 Portugal F3 W
Dennis Novak AUT 20 303 Egypt F6 W
Daniel Smethurst GBR 23 305 Great Britian F5 W

I do enjoy it when all the week’s CHamps make the List. It hardly ever works out that way, but all three of this past week’s events — the €64,000 Cherbourg Challenger, the $50,000 Guangzhou Challenger and the $40,ooo Salinas Challenger – have titlists on a career ascendancy.

Which is especially impressive in the case of 33-year-old Victor Estrella, who has had a breakout month after kicking around the Top 300 for the past six years or so, reaching the Top 100 for the first time and becoming the first Dominican Republican* to do so.

Sweet Victor-y (photo via naciondeporiva.com)

Sweet Victor-y (photo via Michael Monegro at naciondeporiva.com)

In Estrella’s past month he’s gone 12/2 at the challenger level, getting progressively better at each tourney. He made the semis in Dallas (losing to Steve Johnson) and the finals in Morelos (l. Gerald Melzer) before finally taking the Salinas title last week, increasing his ranking 38 spots from No. 137 on the 3rd of February exactly one month ago.

Meanwhile, Blaz Rola, more commonly known as my fifth Player to Watch for 2014, rebounded from a tough Indian Swing with a new coach — during which he went 2/3 at Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi – by grabbing the Guangzhou trophy. The 23-year-old Slovenian, by way of THE Ohio State University, continues to cut a swath through the rankings table, having begun the year at No. 185.

Rola Rocks His Way to the Guangzhou Title (d. Yuichi Sugita)

Rola Rocks His Way to the Guangzhou Title (d. Yuichi Sugita)

Cherbourg champ Kenny de Schepper has also come a long way from the days when we (sort of) watched him in the finals of the 2011 Great Britain F1 Futures event.

The Schepper in His Scotstoun Days - Head And Schoulders Above the Rest

The Schepper in His Scotstoun Days – Head And Schoulders Above the Rest

His win lifts the 6′ 8” (203 cm) lefty 17 spots in this week’s rankings, tying a Career High set September of last year.

Not to be overlooked is the man de Schepper vanquished in the final:

Norbert! Gombos!

Norbert! Gombos!

Because: Norbert Gombos!

Lastly, I don’t want to overlook the efforts of the last man on today’s table, Mr. Daniel Smethurst, as he’s had a truly tremendous 2014 campaign thus far. The 23-year-old Brit has gone 22/3 this season, making the finals of all 5 events he’s entered in 2014 and taking two titles.

So Good It Hurst

So Good It Hurst

I’ve been a Smethurst advocate since I saw him in worldbeater mode at the 2011 USA F2 Futures in Tamarac, FL, against another Challenger Tennis fave, Marcos Giron. At the time, I wrote: “I can’t really see how he’s not a Top 250 player already. He’s certainly got the ability.”**

Well, he’s now on his way.  Clearly ready to make the jump to the next level, he’s already proved his worth at challies, most recently with a singles semifinalist showing at the Champaign Challenger this past November. Can’t wait to see how he does from here.

*or Democrat, for that matter. /obvious joke that I’ve made before

**double negatives FTW!

A very long List today. Since a lot of players’ seasons have already been shuttered, those who did play last week stood to gain a lot vs. those dormant others. Thus, there’s a whole lotta career highs to get to today. So let’s get to them!

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Alejandro Gonzalez COL 24 91 CTF F
Oleksandr Nedovyesov UKR 26 93 CTF SF
Bradley Klahn USA 23 97 Yokohama SF
Dominic Thiem AUT 20 121 others lost points
Facundo Bagnis ARG 23 123 Lima F
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 124 Lima QF
Peter Polansky CAN 25 140 others lost points
Victor Estrella DOM 33 143 Guayaquil QF
Pierre Hugues-Herbert FRA 22 151 Yokohama SF
Guilherme Clezar BRA 20 156 CTF RR
Gerald Melzer AUT 23 178 others lost points
Sam Groth AUS 26 183 Champaign F
Tennys Sandgren USA 22 187 Champaign W
Damir Dzumhur BIH 21 189 others lost points
Pedro Sousa POR 25 199 Guayaquil F
Mohamed Safwat EGY 23 206 Egypt F32 W
Lorenzo Giustino ITA 22 232 others lost points
Axel Michon FRA 22 239 Egypt F32 F
Kimmer Coppejans BEL 19 254 Yokohama R2
Andrea Collarini ARG 21 257 Lima R2
Egor Gerasimov BLR 21 267 Helsinki QF
Hiroki Kondo JPN 31 275 Yokohama FQR
Adrian Sikora SVK 25 295 others lost points
Ante Pavic CRO 24 297 Helsinki R2
Janez Semrajc SLO 24 300 Croatia F14 F

So what do we make of this uber-long List?

Well, first of all, a hardy “Welcome to the Top 100!” is in order for Colombia’s Alejandro Gonzalez and American Bradley Klahn. Gonzalez, who lost to Filippo Volandri in the Challenger Tour Finals, is the sixth Colombian to ever break into the One Hundred Club.

AGon The Conqueror

AGon The Conqueror

Klahn, the three-time All-American out of Stanford, finishes his first full year on tour in superb form, going Finalist, Champion and Semifinalist in Traralgon, Yeongwol and Yokohama respectively — a run that saw him rise 26 rungs on the ATP Rankings ladder.

Behind John Isner and Sam Querrey, the Americans are now tightly bunched, with Tim Smyczek at #89, Michael Russell #92, Donald Young #96 and Klahn at #97.  Furthermore, Klahn has now assured his entry into the main draw at next year’s Australian Open, where the cutoff is ATP #105. Our pals at Footsoldiers of Tennis have the latest breakdown of who’s chasing ATPoints at the three Challenger events this week, in order to join Klahn in the main draw.

The Wrath of Klahn - photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis

The Wrath of Klahn – photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis

Next, we see that tennis’s Facundos are still doing just fine, although they’ll need to qualify at next year’s first Slam.  But at least they’ll be seeded. Click here if you’re still unsure about who the Fac they are.

Clearly congrats are in order for Victor Estrella, who’s the Tommy Haas of the Challenger Tour, finding success well into his thirties. A new career high at age 33 is nothing to sneeze at*.

Sweet Victory

Sweet Victor-y

Lastly, congrats to Sam Groth and Tennys Sandgren, whose bubbly Champaign Challenger success (finalist and champion, respectively) resulted in dual breakthroughs into the vaunted Top One Hundred Eighty Seven.

I Will Not Make A Tennys Pun.

I Will Not Make A Tennys Pun

Groth’s breakthrough has been a long time coming, as he’s dabbled in the 200’s for significant periods of time every year since 2008. As the now seventh-ranked Aussie, he inserts himself prominently into the wildcard discussion for the Oz Open.

Champaign Wishes And Caviar Dreams

Champaign Wishes And Caviar Dreams

Welp, there are many more stories I can tell of those in the lower reaches of this week’s W.A.T.C.H. List, but this article is already long enough, don’t you think?  If I’m inspired, I’ll write a sequel.  So check back often!***

*Unless you have a cold, in which case: sneeze away!**

**Your monitor also doubles as a sneeze guard.

***Chances are <1% that I’ll write a sequel, so use your best judgment here.

Tamarac USA F2 Futures Update!

And so it actually, finally, began. After braving blizzards, car trouble, and a mixed bag of calamities, our brave reporter (hint: that’s me) finally made it to see some actual tennis. What a concept. I slalomed around the various nefarious Floridumb strip malls to the oasis that is the Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac, FL – the site of the second annual *deep breath* Lawrence D. Share Company $10,000 Championships at Synergy Tennis Academy. Or, if you’re short of breath, the USA F2 Futures.

The site itself is top notch, and the organization seems superb. The twenty-court facility featured play on four of its “clay” courts on this Wednesday, having caught up on a backlogged schedule from a waterlogged Monday washout. The two main courts – the innovatively-named “Court 1” and “Court 2” – are separated by a raised, wide partition upon which random chairs and ceramic-y picnic tables are interspersed; a very spectator-friendly setup. Even better, the area between the featured back courts (Courts 9 and 10, if you’re scoring at home) has a shaded gazebo under which I could protect my blindingly pasty fresh-from-the-Northeast skin. Bonus!

I arrived just in time to see one of my 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch selections, Dennis Kudla start his F2-ing against the tourney’s top seed, Victor Estrella. Estrella, the 30 year-old Dominican Republican (or perhaps he’s a Dominican Democrat – I didn’t ask), had finished his 2010 season on quite a roll, winning three straight Dom Rep Futures events (15 matches in all) before losing his final match of the year. All of which was good enough to land him a career high world ranking of 211 – not a bad achievement for someone entering his fourth decade. So I was eager to see how the rising star would fare against the established vet.

Turned out, not so well. At least to begin with. Two backhands into the net and a forehand long saw the 18-year-old Virginian broken in the first game of the match. Kudla then had two breakback points straightaway in the second game (after Estrella shot himself in the foot with the dreaded mediocre-drop-shot-to-awful-lob combo), but Victor found his way out of trouble with a framed volley and an ace erase to deuce and held from there.

The top seed – who the chair umpire seemed to call “Australia” (to my ears), in an obvious fit of Grand Slam fever – looked sharp early, hitting a heavy ball and knifing away the volleys he didn’t frame, while Denis struggled to find his range and/or mojo, seeming initially uncomfortable with conditions and his game on the day. The fleet-footed Dominican prefers to favor the ad court and load up on the forehand side whenever possible, but his heavily-sliced one-handed backhand is suitable to the Tamarac court, staying nice and low. Kudla is less averse to play off both wings, and he started to settle into the match midway through the first set. Though he had a few back-breaking opportunities throughout the set, in the end he was broken a second time as Estrella took the first 6-3.

Ever the supporter of my PTW’s in distress, I bailed and decided to see what else was going on around the grounds. I wanted to see how one of my almost-PTW’s, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, was faring against Phil Simm(ond)s (I myself have a touch of NFL playoff fever – deal). Turns out, not so well. The gangly 19 year-old showed some cliched French flair (drop-shotting four times in one game, venturing to net behind cheekily sliced forehands – you know the drill), but lost the first set to the 24 year-old American, who offered up my favorite bit of vocal self-coaching: “Really? REALLY?? RELAX!!!” It worked: Simmonds took the first set 6-4.

Continue reading

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,796 other followers

%d bloggers like this: