Orlando Open Kicks Off 2019 ATP Challenger Tour In U.S.

USTA National Campus in Orlando (photo: Darren Carroll/USTA)

WASHINGTON, December 15, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)

Often, the ATP Challenger Tour is a proving ground for players beginning their careers with an eye toward ascending to bigger and better things. Sometimes, it’s a place for players who are trying to come back from injury layoffs. Thus, the entry list for the Orlando Open Challenger 80 tournament at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., which kicks off the 2019 ATP Challenger Tour season in the United States, features a little of both. There are two players in the top 200 plus a field comprised of mostly up-and-coming players ranked between No. 222 and No. 304.

The 48-player draw for the inaugural Orlando Open, a new outdoor hardcourt event begins play on Dec. 31 and continues through Jan. 6. It will take place at the same time as two other opening-week Challenger Tour tournaments, in Noumea, New Caledonia, and Playford, Australia. The original cut off for Orlando was 304. The field will be comprised of 37 ATP direct acceptances, four ITF entries, five wild cards and two qualifiers.

Marchenko to lead entry list

Illya Marchenko of Ukraine, ranked No. 685 in the world but using a protected ranking of No. 198, is the highest-ranked player entered at Orlando followed closely by No. 199 Darian King of Barbados. Marchenko, who was once ranked as high as No. 49 in 2016, underwent shoulder surgery last January and missed much of the 2018 season. He was limited to just nine Challenger Tour matches this year and compiled a win-loss record of 4-5. Meanwhile, King went 19-18 on the Challenger Tour, including 17-15 on hard courts.

The rest of the top-eight seeded players include: No. 222 Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia, No. 229 Mitchell Krueger of the U.S., No. 243 Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands, No. 244 Filip Peliwo of Canada, No. 248 Norbert Gombos of Slovakia and No. 251 Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.

Relocation from Waco to Orlando

The Orlando Open Challenger grew out of a Challenger 90 event that was originally scheduled for Waco, Texas. However, after the Challenger Tour schedule was originally released, Waco was dropped as the site and Orlando has stepped up. The prize money was lowered and, thus, lower points – 80 instead of 90 – will be offered.

“It (Waco) is in the past and we are moving forward to run a great event in Orlando,” Megan Rose, a senior director for the USTA who is the Orlando Open tournament director, said recently via email.

Besides No. 229 Krueger, other Americans entered include: No. 255 J.C. Aragone, No. 258 Dennis Novikov, No. 263 Kevin King, No. 287 Evan King and No. 302 Alexander Sarkissian. Other familiar names include No. 274 Liam Broady of Great Britain and No. 300 Ante Pavic of Croatia.

The Orlando Open is one of four U.S.-based Challenger Tour events taking place in January. Others include: Columbus, Ohio, starting Jan. 7; Newport Beach, Calif. (week of Jan. 21), and Cleveland, Ohio (week of Jan. 28). In February, there are events scheduled for Dallas, Texas (week of Feb. 4) and Indian Wells, Calif. (week of Feb. 25), and one in March in Phoenix, Ariz. (week of March 11).

Full entry list

198 Marchenko, Illya (UKR)
199 King, Darian (BAR)
222 Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
229 Krueger, Mitchell (USA)
243 De Bakker, Thiemo (NED)
244 Peliwo, Filip (CAN)
248 Gombos, Norbert (SVK)
251 Ignatik, Uladzimir (BLR)
252 Cid Subervi, Roberto (DOM)
255 Aragone, JC (USA)
258 Novikov, Dennis (USA)
262 Bonzi, Benjamin (FRA)
263 King, Kevin (USA)
264 Elias, Gastao (POR)
265 Serdarusic, Nino (CRO)
266 Bourgue, Mathias (FRA)
267 Zapata Miralles, Bernabe (ESP)
270 Tatlot, Johan (FRA)
271 Mager, Gianluca (ITA)
273 Ojeda Lara, Ricardo (ESP)
274 Broady, Liam (GBR)
280 Coria, Federico (ARG)
282 Uchida, Kaichi (JPN)
283 Oliveira, Goncalo (POR)
284 Taberner, Carlos (ESP)
285 Couacaud, Enzo (FRA)
286 Miedler, Lucas (AUT)
287 King, Evan (USA)
288 Grigelis, Laurynas (LTU)
292 Viola, Matteo (ITA)
293 Choinski, Jan (GER)
294 Safranek, Vaclav (CZE)
295 Griekspoor, Scott (NED)
300 Pavic, Ante (CRO)
301 Collarini, Andrea (ARG)
302 Sarkissian, Alexander (USA)
304 Przysiezny, Michal (POL)
ITF11 Reboul, Fabien (FRA)
ITF14 Souza, Joao (BRA)
ITF22 Jomby, Tom (FRA)
ITF24 Sels, Jelle (NED)