Monday, July 20, 2015

Future of the ATP heads to Binghamton

Typically, it's the Grade A events on the Junior Tour that are the best preview of the future of tennis, but this week the Binghamton Challenger has an all-star line-up of the young stars on the ATP World Tour and it is getting under way with the main draw action today.

Here is a breakdown of the line-up at Binghamton:

Kyle Edmund - The tournament's top seed took a wild card to get the chance to be a part of the this incredible list of players. The 20-year old, ranked just outside the top 100 at 113, is the hope of British tennis fans, who want to see another Wimbledon champion from their country. Edmund reached the semifinals of the junior Wimbledon tournament in 2013, but has yet to get through the first round in the gentlemen's draw. Unlike most British players, Edmund actually plays just as well on clay as he does on hard courts, making his future particularly bright.

Bjorn Fratangelo - The No. 2 seed in Binghamton is the top hope of the home fans at Binghamton to take the title. The American is ranked No. 125 in the world at just 22-years old. He captured his first Challenger Tour title in February this year in Australia and has continued to build his ranking. He has a lot of ranking points to defend in September, so his best shot to crack the top 100 for the first time is in these next few weeks.

Liam Broady - The 21-year old left-hander is the tournament's No. 3 seed. The Brit is enjoying a career-high ranking of 159 after getting his first grand slam victory with a five-set win over Marinko Matosevic after trailing two sets to love. Now, it's time to see how he will back up that incredible win as he makes a push for the top 100.

Guilherme Clezar - The Brazilian completes the quartet of top four seeds that are 22-years old or younger. Clezar is out of his niche a little bit being in a hard-court event in North America. He has not successfully qualified for a grand slam in 10 tries in his career, so the decision to play Binghampton was probably motivated by getting himself prepared to qualify for the US Open. It will be interesting to see if the decision pays off.

Jared Donaldson - The No. 5 seed is the highest ranked teenager in the draw and he is only 18-years old. In fact, there are only two players in the world younger than Donaldson that are ranked higher than him. The American captured his first Challenger Tour title earlier this year at Maui. He has a good spot in the draw and could certainly make a run this week.

Ernesto Escobedo - The 19-year old qualified for the main draw this morning and then drew the top seed, making for an exciting first-round match. Escobedo's last year has been plagued by injuries and coaching changes, but his results of late have been much better as he has gone 15-6 going back to May. He is still one of the best teenagers in the world and a big source of hope for American tennis fans.

Omar Jasika - The former junior US Open champion has translated nicely to the ATP World Tour, reaching a career-high ranking this week of 283 at just 18-years old. He has won back-to-back futures events, and pulled off one of the biggest upsets on the Challenger Tour of the year back in March, when, as a qualifier, he took out Hyeon Chung in the first round in Le Gosier.

Noah Rubin - The former junior Wimbledon champion spent most of his 2015 tennis season playing for Wake Forest instead of playing professional tennis, but earlier this year he did reach a career-high ranking of 532. He got a wildcard into the main draw and will face Jasika in a first-round blockbuster.

Tommy Paul - Just weeks after winning the junior Roland Garros title, the American is back to playing a professional tournament for the first time. The last time he was playing a professional event, he was winning a futures title in Italy. In fact, he went 13-1 on the futures tour in the month of May. He hasn't reached that level of success on the Challenger Tour yet, but a wildcard into Binghampton could help change that.

Mitchell Krueger - The 21-year old American is enjoying the best year of his career, ranking No. 220 in the YTD rankings. As a junior, he defeated Kyle Edmund at Wimbledon and he could face the Brit again in the quarterfinals.

Dennis Novikov - The UCLA tennis star cracked the top 200 earlier this year. The 6-foot-4 American is best known for his win over Jerzy Janowicz at the US Open in 2012. He's now 21-years old and playing a full schedule of events. His first-round match is against former University of Michigan star Jason Jung, which will be a thrilling match for all college tennis fans.

Reilly Opelka - Fresh off his junior Wimbledon title, the American giant is received a wildcard into his first Challenger Tour main draw. The 17-year old that stands at 6-foot-10 will face a qualifier in the first round. Opelka is already drawing comparisons to John Isner and as he continues to develop, he could certainly become as successful as the top-ranked American.

Marcos Giron - The 21-year old is one of the best college tennis players since Steve Johnson and is just now getting his first full season as a professional. Just a couple weeks ago at the Winnetka Challenger, Giron got through qualifying and then earned his first main draw victory in a Challenger event of the season. He reached the main draw in Binghamton as a qualifier after collecting a pair of straight-set wins.

Nicolas Jarry - The 19-year old Chilean has had very little success in his career on hard courts, but that hasn't stopped him from crashing the top 200 earlier this season. This is only his fourth career main draw appearance at a hard court event as a professional and his only win so far came on the futures tour. He gets Nicolas Meister in the first round, who was another former college player to qualify.

Frances Tiafoe - This 17-year old American is probably the biggest single reason to watch the action in Binghamton. He just reached a career-high ranking of 284 after starting the year ranked outside of the top 1000. He has only played one hard court event on the Challenger Tour so far and lost in the first round. On the futures tour, however, he reached finals of back-to-back hard court tournaments and won the title at the first of the two.

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