The ATP Challenger Tour 2015 calendar comprised 166 tournaments with prize money of $40,000 to $220,000. It was the 39th edition of Challenger tournaments cycle and the 7th under the name of the “ATP Challenger Tour”. Tennis TourTalk is having an annual review in eleven parts to close the year.
The European clay court swing got underway in April with the €106,500 Capri Watch Tennis Napoli, which took place in Naples, the capital city of the Italian region Campania, the week of 6 April for the 18th time. Two unseeded players met in the final when Spanish veteran Daniel Munoz de la Nava clinched his only second ATP Challenger career title, winning 6-2, 6-1 against Matteo Donati. Later the season, the 33-year-old from Madrid should be able to collect two more trophies to his collection and eventually break into the top 100 for the first time in his career.
The same week the indoor season continued in Europe with the 12th edition of the €35,000 2015 Open Harmonie mutuelle in Saint-Brieuc, located in Brittany in northwestern France. With 33-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Mahut another experienced player took the title on home soil. The third seed won the final 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 against Yuichi Sugita. Mahut broke the Japanese for 5-5 in the second set, when Sugita served for the match to clinch his 12th Challenger career title.
“We had a great week with matches at highest level and a phantastic champion,” tournament directors Patrick Le Bacquer and Gérard Leroux summed up. “To remain our spot in the ATP calendar, we will increase prize money to €42,500 next year.”
Outside Europe, hard court cracks met in Mexico for the 13th edition of the $75,000 Torneo Internacional León, a city with about 1.5 million inhabitants located in the state of Guanajuato. Fourth seed Austin Krajicek captured his second Challenger trophy rallying back in the final against top-ranked Adrian Menéndez-Maceiras to seal a 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 victory. Later the day, Krajicek also took the doubles title alongside fellow US-American Rajeev Ram.
Dudi Sela won the inaugural €42,500 Batman Cup taking place on hard courts of the Turkish city located in Southeastern Anatolia Region, whch lies on a plateau 540 meters (1,772 feet) above sea level. Sela, the tournament’s second favourite, emerged victorious from the final between the two top-seeds, winning 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 against Blaz Kavcic.
The week of 13 April, the Challenger Tour continued on the green clay of the $100,000 Sarasota Open, located on the southwestern coast of the U.S. state of Florida. Second seed Federico Delbonis defeated sixth seed Facundo Bagnis in the first all-Argentine-ATP Challenger final outside South America since Gaston Gaudio claimed the title in San Remo in 2010. “I think this is the best situation to start the year’s clay court season,” Delbonis stated afterwards. In fact, the 24-year-old from Azul should be able to claim another two trophies in 2015.
The second clay court tournament of the week took place in Turkey when players met for the fourth edition of the €42,500 Mersin Cup, held in the south of the country on the Mediterranean coast. Unseeded Kimmer Coppejans claimed his second title of the season, after lifting the trophy in Guangzhou in March. The 21-year-old Belgian ousted third ranked local Marsel Ilhan, winning 6-2, 6-2.
The tournament with the highest prize money in the week of 20 April, was the $100,000 event with probably the most eccentric name on the ATP Challenger Tour, called Zurich Jalisco Open presentado por Aeromexico y Lacoste. The fifth edition in Guadalajara, the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Jalisco, was won by US-American Rajeev Ram, who beat fellow countryman Jason Jung 6-1, 6-2. The 31-year-old from Denver lifted his seventh Challenger singles trophy and also claimed the doubles title alongside Austin Krajicek. Later the season, he captured the ATP 250 title in Newport.
The same week, two more tournaments were held on American soil. The $50,000 Campeonato Internacional de Tenis de Santos, a municipality in the Sao Paulo state of Brazil. Second favourite Blaz Rola was the winner of the tournament’s fifth edition. The Slovenian defeated unseeded Belgian Germain Gigounon 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
“I had a good start into the year, but my goal is to be inside the top 50 by the end of 2015. If I am not there, I will come back for sure to play in Santos again,” told Rola after winning the tournament. He is currently ranked on 145th position.
The other one took place in the United States with the $50,000 St. Joseph’s/Candler Sanvannah Challenger, held at the Landings Club in the oldest city of Georgia (established in 1733). 18-year-old Hyeon Chung won his second title of the season, after he had been successful in Burnie in February. On the green clay, the Korean teenager defeated James McGee in the final, winning 6-3, 6-2.
“I tried to focus on every single point. I’m so happy to win,” said Chung afterwards and received US-$ 7.200 as well as 80 ATP ranking points to break into the top 100.
The last tournament of the week was the second edition of the €42,500 Citta di Vercelli-Trofeo Multimed, held in the Italian city of about 45,000 inhabitants in the Province of Piedmont. Taro Daniel claimed his maiden Challenger title by winning the final 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 against Italian veteran Filippo Volandri.
“I am really happy to get this win today, claiming my first Challenger title. I am happy to be here in Italy and it was great to play such an experienced guy like Volandri. It’s such a tight level and being able to beat these guys is amazing. I keep working hard, keep staying humble as well as motivated,” the 22-year-old winner from Japan told afterwards and took two more titles later the season.
Six more tournaments took place in the final week of the month. The $75,000 Santaizi ATP Challenger had the highest amount of prize money, held in Taipei City, the capital and a special municipality of Taiwan. Five top 100 players entered the main draw with the second ranked winning the title. Sam Groth downed Konstantin Kravchuk in a tight final, sealing a 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 victory.
Also in Asia, Franko Skugor took his second Challenger career title when he capped an impressive week with victory at the $50,000 China International Challenger, played on clay. The tournament’s fourth edition was held in Anning, a county level city under the jurisdiction of Kunming, Yunnan and the Croat beat Gavin van Peperzeel in the final 7-5, 6-2.
With Guido Pella, an Argentine gained the title in Brazil at the $50,000 Sao Paulo Challenger de Tenis, located in the southeastern part of the country. Pella won the final of the tournament’s fifth edition 7-5, 7-6 against Christian Lindell from Sweden and would return to the city for the Challenger Tour’s season finale in November.
The US-swing continued on the green clay for the 16th edition of the $50,000 Tallahassee Tennis Challenger, the capital of the state of Florida. In the final fifth seed Facundo Arguello fought back to overcome US-American teenager Frances Tiafoe, winning 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.
“It was very, very difficult,” Arguello said after winning his third Challenger trophy. “(Tiafoe) plays really good and it was a real battle this time. Playing here was incredible. This was my second time in Tallahassee and at least this time I could be a champion.”
Meanwhile in Europe, the inaugural €42,500 ATP Challenger Torino, held in Turin, the important business and cultural centre located in Northern Italy. Local hero and eighth seed Marco Cecchinato lifted his second Challenger trophy, winning the final 6-2, 6-3 against Kimmer Coppejans. It will remain the 22-year-old Italian’s only title of the season.
The 12th edition of the Prosperita Open took place in Ostrava, a city in the north-east of the Czech Republic and capitla of the Moravian-Silesian Region. Inigo Cervantes won the final between two unseeded players of the €42,500 event against Adam Pavlasek 7-6, 6-4. The 25-year-old Spaniard claimed his first out of four ATP Challenger trophies in 2015. It was also his first Challenger title since winning in Trnava in 2011.
He was understandably happy about his victory and posted afterwards on twitter: