VERO BEACH, April 24, 2019 (Press Release)
Players from five continents, including former University of Florida All-American Sekou Bangoura, all-time leading Venezuelan Davis Cupper Ricardo Rodriguez, Zimbabwe Davis Cupper Takanyi Garanganga and Kazakhstan Davis Cupper Dmitry Popko, highlight the field of direct entries into the $25,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships April 29 – May 5 at The Boulevard tennis club in Vero Beach.
The event is being held for a 25th straight year in Vero Beach and is part of the International Tennis Federation World Tennis Tour and part of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Competitive Pathway. This year marks the first year the event has been elevated to a $25,000-level tournament. In the previous 24 years of the event, it was a $10,000 or $15,000 level competition.
“Tennis has never been as globally popular as it is now and this is reflective in our fascinating singles field of players from literally every corner of the world,” said Tom Fish, co-tournament director and President of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation. “We encourage everyone in the Vero Beach area to come watch these amazingly talented international tennis players compete while supporting the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation that benefits at-risk youth in Indian River County. This is the 25th year of this tournament, which is the premier international sporting event in Vero Beach.”
Bangoura from Bradenton, Florida, is the top-ranked singles entry with an ATP Tour singles ranking of No. 400. He earned All-American status for the Florida Gators in 2011. In 2010, he won the USTA national junior doubles title with Nathan Pasha and played in the first round of doubles of the U.S. Open in New York. Other Americans among the 18 direct entries include former Northwestern standout Strong Kircheimer, a semifinalist in Vero Beach last year, Alafia Ayeni, the No. 1 player for Cornell University currently ranked No. 441 by the ATP, former Texas A&M standouts Harrison Adams, the doubles runner-up in Vero Beach last year, and new professional Jordi Arconanda, and Swiss-American Alexander Ritschard of Zurich, a former standout at the University of Virginia.
South America is represented by nine direct singles entries lead by No. 2 entry Bastian Malla of Chile, ranked No. 435 in the ATP Tour rankings, as well as Rodriguez, the all-time leading Davis Cup player from Venezuela who was defeated in last year’s Vero Beach singles final by Juan Benitez of Colombia. Nico Mejia, the Colombian Davis Cupper and Wimbledon junior semifinalist last summer who reached the quarterfinals in Vero Beach last year as a qualifier, is also among the direct entries. Other South Americans in the field include three Argentines lead by 2014 and 2015 Vero Beach finalist Facunda Mena and also Camilo Ugo Carabelli and Juan Ignacio Galarza. Brazil is represented by Pedro Sakamoto, Peru by Nicolas Alvarez and Ecuador by Diego Hidalgo.
Andrew Watson of Great Britain, ranked No. 677 by the ATP, is Europe’s lone direct entry and is looking to equal the success in Vero Beach of his countryman Tim Henman, the former top 10 star who was a Vero Beach semifinalist in 1995, and Kyle Edmund, Britain’s current No. 1 who won the title in Vero Beach in 2013.
Representing Asia in Vero Beach is Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan, who is currently one of the hottest players in the ITF World Tennis Tour having won six titles already this year, including his last two tournaments in Sunrise, Florida and Orange Park, Florida. Popko, a member of Kazakhstan’s Davis Cup team, has competed in the qualifying rounds of all four Grand Slam tournaments and was ranked as high as No. 178 in the world.
Africa is represented in Vero Beach by Garanganga, a member of Zimbabwe’s Davis Cup team since 2007. He has competed in all four junior Grand Slam tournaments and qualified for the ATP Tour event in Los Cabos, Mexico last summer. He won the first ever gold medal for Zimbabwe at the 2011 All-Africa Games.
Leading entries into the 32-player, two-day qualifying tournament, that will be played April 29 and April 30, including defending champion Benitez of Colombia, defending doubles champion Junior Ore of Miami and Irish Davis Cupper Julian Bradley. Players in the qualifying tournament must win two matches on Monday and Tuesday to earn entry into the 32-player main draw.
The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships is regarded as one of the best entry-level professional tennis tournaments in the world. Proceeds from the event benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, the former top 10 tennis star and the current U.S. Davis Cup captain. The event will be held April 29 – May 5 at The Boulevard tennis club in Vero Beach.
Tournament tickets and sponsorships for the event can be purchased at www.MardyFishChildrensFoundation.org Daily tickets for the April 29-May 5 are $20, with “night session” tickets starting at 5 pm from April 29 – May 4 costing $10. Season tickets for every session of the event are $100. Admission for children 18 and under is free.