Gran Canaria Challenger Ready To Kick Off

Gran Canaria Challenger

GRAN CANARIA, February 21, 2021

One day ahead of the start of the Gran Canaria Challenger I, the draws have been made and latest news were announced, as final preparations are in full swing at the Tennis Academy El Cortijo Club De Campo in Telde, one of the most renowned tennis facilities on the third largest island of the Canary Islands.

The venue will host back-to-back tournaments over the next two weeks and is located approximately 15 kilometers south of the capital Las Palmas in Telde, the second largest city in Gran Canaria. The international airport can be reached by car in just 10 minutes. The stars of the Challenger circuit will stay at the Bull Reina Isabel & Spa Hotel, overlooking the well-known Playa de Las Canteras, in Las Palmas.

Musetti leads the line-up

World No. 122 Lorenzo Musetti, top seed of the €44,820 clay-court event, will open his bid for a second title on the ATP Challenger Tour following his maiden triumph on home soil in Forli last year against a qualifier. The Italian teen sensation could face either another qualifier or wild card entry and fellow 18-year-old Mark Owen Endler in the second round. Endler, who was born in Tenerife, one of Gran Canarias’s neighbouring islands, represents Germany and will make his debut on the ATP Challenger Tour.

“My mother is from the United States and my father is German. My grandparents still live in Dresden,” Endler told Tennis TourTalk last month during a national tennis tournament at the El Cortijo Club de Campo, explaining his international background. Competing in the ATP Challenger is a dream to come true for the youngster.

“I train at the Tenerife Tennis Academy, where I also go to school. My goal is to become a tennis professional. However, I am thinking of going to the United States next year to study and play college tennis,” he said.

No. 3 seed Federico Gaio of Italy will take on Slovenian veteran Blaz Kavcic. The winner will play either Spanish talent Nicolas Kuhn, who is seeking his first match win of the season, or Italian Riccardo Bonadio.

The bottom half of the draw is led by Carlos Taberner. The No. 2 seed from Spain, who had lifted his second ATP Challenger trophy at the MTA Open in Antalya before heading for Doha in Qatar, where he lost in the second round of the qualifying to the Australian Open to Dustin Brown. Possible second-round opponents for Taberner are Croatian alternate Nino Serdarusic or 38-year-old former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo from Spain.

No. 4 seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia will take on Spanish wild card entry Javier Barranco Cosano, who captured two titles on the ITF World Tennis Tour last year and made it into the semi-final of the 2019 Sparkassen Open ATP Challenger event in Braunschweig, Germany. Milojevic’s compatriot and No. 5 seed Danilo Petrovic will play Belgian Kimmer Coppejans in the first round.

Marrero serves as tournament director

Gran Canaria native David Marrero will be the tournament director. “I think we can expect some good and competitive matches. The draw is quite open and there are many players, who can win the title,” the 2013 ATP Finals doubles champion alongside Fernando Verdasco told Tennis TourTalk after the draw ceremony on Saturday. Marrero will serve as the tournament director for the first time.

“This is my local club here. Everything is fantastic and I am very happy. I don’t feel nervous. I like to be close to the players. I will try to do my best and hope that by the end of the two weeks everyone will be happy, so that we can build up on it the upcoming years.”

The ATP Challenger Tour will return to Gran Canaria for the first time since 2008 and will be organized by MEF Tennis Events from Italy, which gave the starting shot for the resumption of the professional tennis tour with the Internazionali Di Tennis Citta Di Todi last August after the forced suspension due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Energizing the island”

The idea of organizing the tournaments came up in November last year. Francisco Castellano, Councilor for Sports at Gran Canaria’s local government, pointed out that it was not an easy task to host back-to-back tournaments at such short notice.

“We have done it in record time, and we will see the result in 15 days, but I already know that it will be a success because the people working to make it possible love this sport,” he said during a press conference earlier this week.

“These events will energize the Canary Islands, will energize Gran Canaria and will energize Telde. There is no better destination to organize outdoor events than Gran Canaria, which can count on a climate that allows to do sports throughout the year.”