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