(The players you should know)
(The players you should know)
Top 100! Nuff said! If you really want to get to know Joran, check out the PODCAST we did a couple years ago in Egypt!
TOP 100 BABY!!! Sander Gille is an absolute beast from Hasselt, Belgium who played college tennis at East Tennessee State University. This week, he and Joran Vliegen won the Open de Rennes Challenger in France and cracked the Top 100 for the first time! I've known Sander for a couple years now, we played each other in college and then we met again playing Futures in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Back then, Sander and Joran were just starting to win a bunch of Doubles Titles, but I'd say none of us were thinking he'd soon be Top 100! Joran is close to cracking the Top 100 as well, maybe his time to be player of the week is coming. So far Sander has won 26 Futures Doubles Titles, 8 Challenger Doubles Titles, and 1Futures Singles Title; Insane. You've come a long way from helping me make a pros and cons list about playing in Croatia versus Greece! I'm pumped to see how far you can take it man, keep doing your thing and know that there are tons of people cheering for you!
The 23 year old from the Netherlands has been on an absolute tear in 2017! The last three weeks, in the Dominican Republic, he got to the Quarters of Singles each week and collected two Doubles Titles. He has now won 10 Futures Doubles Titles, and is getting closer to his first Singles Title every week. I shared a warm up court with Sem a couple weeks ago in the DR, and was most impressed with how intense and positive he was through his whole practice. I didn't know who he was, but I was impressed that a guy was being so positive in the second week. It's so common to see players grow tired and frustrated by the second and third weeks of trips; it's those sorts of days that really make a huge difference while traveling. If you can find ways to stay positive and keep improving, or at least practicing with the intent to improve, then you see guys have good weeks like Sem just did. He played college tennis at the University of the Pacific, and really helped turn that school into a good tennis program. I have no doubts Sem will continue to rise in both the Singles and Doubles rankings, all the best man!
5 Titles in a row. That's all. Seriously, I'm not gonna say anything else about this man. He's on fire. 19 matches in a row. Undefeated in Kuwait and South Africa. Well done bruv.
UNDEFEATED IN THE COUNTRY OF KUWAIT!! I've wanted to name Rob player of the week for a couple weeks in a row, but I held off in hopes that he would get the 3-Peat in Kuwait, and he did! He just won 3 Futures Doubles Titles in a row, to put his career total up to 9! Come a long way since that broken toe in Greece, huh? Rob is a 25 year old from Greenville, South Carolina who played college tennis at Wofford. Probably safe to say he is the best tennis player to ever come out of their program since he's now at a career high #326 in Doubles and #1921 in the ATP Singles Rankings. From the two weeks I spent with Rob in Greece, I knew that even if he didn't get as high as he is now, he would have tried everything. He's smart, diligent, and a very good competitor, remember that time you almost got in a fight with Sami? Man, congrats on a good couple weeks, and kill it down in South Africa!
Raleigh Smith is a 26 year old from Miami, Florida who I've known since the Junior tennis days. We played at rival high schools, and then in the same Conference, Raleigh at Northwestern, and me at Nebraska. Finally we ran into each other on the Futures Tour down in Ecuador, and man Raleigh is intense! He's one of the guys you notice something switches in his brain when he's on court; it's all business and it's all about winning. He's always been that way. Last week, in Birmingham, Alabama, he won the Player's Choice Open with his partner Wil Spencer. He hasn't won a Singles Future yet, but I'm sure it's on the way; last week's title was his 6th overall Futures Doubles Title and moved him up to #628 in the ATP Doubles Rankings. This week he's playing in Niceville, so all best Raleigh and keep getting after it!
It seems weird to say that ATP #82 Ben McLachlan is a player you should know, but it's true! The 25 year-old from New Zealand has had an amazing Doubles career since graduating from the University of California, but you probably don't know his name. He's collected 14 Futures Doubles Titles, 2 Challenger Doubles Titles, and now his first ATP 500 Level Doubles Title when he won the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo alongside Yasutaka Uchiyama. In this tournament alone he beat two former Grand Slam Champion teams in Rojer/Tecau and Murray/Soares, so it's clear Ben has the ability to etch his name on a Grand Slam trophy in the future. Cheers to you, Ben, keep it rollin!
Daniel is a 32 year old Spaniard, who was once ranked as high as #48 in the ATP Singles Rankings. Since turning pro in 1992, Daniel has won 18 career Singles Titles, and 7 Doubles Titles on the Futures and Challenger Tours. Injury has kept him out of competition towards the later stage of his career, limiting him to just 8 matches between February and August of this year, all of which he lost. I gave him player of the week, because he's back healthy, for the moment, and just won the Futures Singles Title in Roja de Turia, Spain. A big day for him, I'm sure. I've never met the man, but I think he would have a lot to tell about the game, and why he plays it. Stay tuned for the day I have him on my podcast!
This week it's the Irishman, Peter Bothwell! Pete is 22 and has been playing Futures for a while, and it seems that right now he is starting to hit his stride. He's gotten to the doubles final for three straight weeks, and this week finally took the title alongside Neil Pauffley. Pete's got three Futures doubles titles to his name, one of which I was there to see in Tunisia, with Lloyd Glasspool. Having known Pete the little bit that I do, I'd say he's one of the hardest workers I know, a terrible volleyball player (remember Sharm? haha), and a good dude. Pete, good on ya man- keep it rollin!
If you don't know this buns, you will soon! Shane was ranked as high as #19 in the world as a Junior, and got the Boys Doubles Final at Roland Garros in 2011. A Texas native, he went on to be a stand out for the Texas A&M Aggies for four years. I roomed with Shane for 3 weeks in the Dominican Republic in December, and I couldn't be happier that he's starting to climb the rankings and win some tournaments! He had a breakout even, getting to the semis after I got my flight home, and then he did really well in India (he wanted to play in Portugal, but I lobbied hard for India) so really he owes me for that! Either way, last week he and Harrison Adams (also a Texas A&M product) won the 25k Doubles in Canada, which earned him the prestigious Player of the Week honor. Shane, keep doing it man!