I decided it would be good to create some awards or recognition (good and bad) for the first half of the year on the Men’s ITF Pro Circuit. I am defining the first half of the year as being from January 1, 2015 to the finals played on July 5, 2015.
Most of these will be straight descriptive lists or players that stand out. I hope to do a deeper dive and analysis once I get everything going. In the future, I intend to include the women’s side and also do awards monthly.
I should probably start with the positive. Obviously the goal is to do well at the Futures level and get into Challengers. There’s also the need for player development at the Futures level. That opens up the argument of whether it is more important to accumulate points and move quickly or prepare yourself for the tougher matches you will eventually face heading up the ladder (i.e., do I play in Turkey or USA). There are obviously plenty of variables and philosophies and that’s for another post, so keep that in mind.
MOST TITLES IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON
|BELLOTTI, Riccardo (ITA)||6|
|NASO, Gianluca (ITA)||6|
|NOVAK, Dennis (AUT)||5|
|WEINTRAUB, Amir (ISR)||4|
|PANFIL, Grzegorz (POL)||4|
|KING, Darian (BAR)||4|
|MACHADO, Rui (POR)||4|
|CREPALDI, Erik (ITA)||4|
|CHAZAL, Maxime (FRA)||4|
|HUANG, Liang-Chi (TPE)||4|
|LINZER, Michael (AUT)||4|
The first thing to note is three Italians in the top there. Bellotti is currently ranked 247 in the world and has moved n to Challengers. He grabbed his titles in Croatia and Turkey. Naso is back to 214 in the world. He is obviously playing Challengers and actualy won all of his titles in Italy. The third Italian, Crepaldi hasn’t fared to well at Challengers and is 300 in the world. He bagged most of his points traveling Tunisia, Cyprus, Turkey and Greece.
I found it interesting that the Israeli, Amir Weintraub (a former top-200 player), got all of his points in Israel, then immediately jumped into the Wimbledon qualies, where he was defeated by Bjorn Fratangelo.
Darian King, currently 205, has done well at Futures in the US and Mexico, but hasn’t played in almost a month.
MOST POINTS IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON
|BELLOTTI, Riccardo (ITA)||12||0||47||9||140||6|
|PECOTIC, Matija (CRO)||0||0||27||9||126||3|
|KING, Darian (BAR)||0||0||34||9||122||4|
|NASO, Gianluca (ITA)||4||0||40||6||121||6|
|NOVAK, Dennis (AUT)||2||0||38||7||116||5|
|SAFWAT, Mohamed (EGY)||0||0||39||7||109||3|
|SARKISSIAN, Alexander (USA)||0||1||33||10||108||2|
|SANDGREN, Tennys (USA)||0||0||29||6||107||2|
|HALYS, Quentin (FRA)||0||0||25||8||105||2|
|MACHADO, Rui (POR)||0||0||33||4||103||4|
Again Bellotti is at the top, which is understandable since he won six tournaments. What was interesting was the fact he had to qualify in the early stages and went 12-0. Also impressive was the fact that Naso won six of the 12 Futures tournaments he entered in this time frame.
Of note to fans of American college tennis is the Croatian Matija Pecotic, who played at Princeton. He’s a great kid (I’m old) who I had the chance to hang out with a bit when his team came to Austin a few years back. He started the year in Georgia (the country), then Turkey, Egypt, and Great Britain before picking up two titles in Nigeria and one in the US (Winston-Salem).
Also making the list are former Pepperdine and Tennessee standouts, Sarkissian and Sandgren. Sarkissian has spent time in the US, Australia, Mexico, Hong Kong and actually won a South Korean Challenger (Gimcheon). Sandgren went to Australia and China as well, but has done most of his playing in the US and Canada, including some Challenger success, reaching the semifinal in Tallahassee.
MOST QUALIFYING WINS
|SMITH, Raleigh (USA)||37||8||7||9||7|
|MESQUIDA BERG, Oscar (ESP)||32||7||3||11||3|
|LIZEN, Aswin (GBR)||27||4||3||11||3|
|UHLIG, Daniel (GER)||27||7||2||6||2|
|CHAPLIN, Jarryd (AUS)||26||7||10||10||11|
|TABERNER, Carlos (ESP)||26||0||6||8||9|
|MARDONES, Bruno (ESP)||26||11||3||9||3|
|WAGNER, Hannes (GER)||26||8||2||6||2|
|KAPRIC, Denis (GER)||26||15||0||5||0|
I know 26 matches is just an arbitrary number, but this is the Ultimate Grinder Award. A few years back (over 10), I was 39 and playing a lot. I was also writing some for the USTA and following all of the events in Texas. One year I attended 13 pro events alone. I decided to play a couple of wild card and qualifying tournaments. The guys I met were amazing. I also met some of these grinders. The guys who just want to play, get a point or two and see where it takes them. I’ve known some of these guys who would get a single point and just travel to the ends of the Earth to try and get a second and see the world. I also knew a guy who always seemed to qualify for the main draw, but could never get that elusive point. I envied them. I felt their pain.
Former Northwestern tennis player Raleigh Smith stands out with 37 qualifying wins alone. He’s been grinding mostly in the US, Israel and Turkey. My goal here is to get him to tweet more from the road (@raleighs_myth).
Look out for Spain’s Carlos Taberner. The 17-year old did not lose a single qualifying match and has subsequently broken out with a semifinal appearance this month.
The last guy, Denis Kapric, however, wins the ULTIMATE GRINDER AWARD. Having gone 26-15 in qualifying rounds, he’s 0-5 in main draw appearances. He has two points from last year, but those get wiped out in a few months. His European vacation has taken him to Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Croatia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania this year alone. This sounds like a great trip for the 20-year old German. I hope he grabs another point or two here soon.