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.
Season kicked-off in January with two events, which are perfect for players in order to prepare for the Australian Open. The $50,000 City of Onkaparinga ATP Challenger in Happy Valley, a metropolitan suberb of Adelaide in South Australia, celebrated its inaugural edition the week from 5 January. Unseeded US-American Ryan Harrison captured his third ATP Challenger crown, winning the final against the tournament’s second favourite Marcos Baghdatis, winning 7-6, 6-4.
The same week, Belgian Steve Darcis experienced the maybe longest journey on the tour to lift the trophy at the $75,000 Challenger BNP Paribas in Nouméa, the capital city of the French special collectivity of New Caledonia. The island is located in the south-west Pacific Ocean and travel time from France is about 25 hours. Darcis defeated seventh seed Adrián Menéndez-Maceiras in the final, winning 6-3, 6-2.
Meanwhile the clay court players met for the first of two ATP Challengers, which took place in Casablanca the week of 12 January. Local hero Lamine Ouahab was the winner of the €42,500 Morocco Tennis Tour event, when he cruised past Javier Martí in the final, winning 6-0, 7-6. Later the season, the Algerian native lifted three more ITF Future trophies on Moroccan soil.
The week after the Australian Open, the Challenger Tour spread out all over the world. Clay court specialists were able to continue to play on the dirt at the Claro Open Bucaramanga with a total prize money of $50,000. The tournament has been held in the capital city of the department of Santander in Colombia since 2009. This year’s edition was won by Daniel Gimeno-Traver, who beat Gastao Elias in the final 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.
The hard court season continued at the $50,000 Royal Lahaina Challenger on the island of Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Seven of the top-8-seeds were US-Americans, so it was no surprise that eventually a local player would win the title, but it was an unseeded teenager, who upset the rest of the field. 18-year-old Jared Donaldson started a successful year for the US-American young guns, when he clinched his first ATP Challenger title without dropping a set. Donaldson beat fellow countryman Nicolas Meister in the final 6-1, 6-4.
“I’m playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said Donaldson. “I just came from Australia, and obviously I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, losing in the second round of the ‘qualies,’ but I really learned a lot from that week and tried to put what I learned into matches which I am really, really thankful for.”
The inaugural edition of the $50,000 Hongkong ATP Challenger took place the same week. In the special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China another youngster emerged victorious. 20-year-old Kyle Edmund captured his maiden Challenger title, wining the final 6-1, 6-2 against Tatsuma Ito in only 55 minutes. He didn’t lose a set along his way to the final and stated afterwards: “This is a huge confidence booster for me.” Later the season, the Brit, who was born in Johannesburg, should be able to add another two Challenger trophies to his collection, crowning his season by winning the Davis Cup.