Sebastian Baez celebrates his second ATP Challenger Tour title in Santiago, Chile.

#NextGenATP Baez Pays Tribute To Late Coach With Santiago Crown

Sebastian Baez claims second ATP Challenger Tour title

This was not a typical week on the ATP Challenger Tour for Sebastian Baez, as the 20-year-old competed on the clay courts of Santiago, Chile. And as he lifted the trophy at the Club Manquehue on Sunday, his victory became even more extraordinary.

Baez completed a stunning run on Chilean soil with the title at the Challenger Santiago, adding a second consecutive crown to open his 2021 campaign. Also the champion in Concepcion one month ago, he would extend his perfect record on the circuit this year to 10-0 with yet another triumph on Sunday. The budding #NextGenATP star did not drop a set all week.

With his play on the court and his touching words during an emotional trophy ceremony, it was a fitting tribute all around. In January, Baez's former coach and mentor, Jorge 'Chino' Gerosi, passed away at the age of 63. A renowned coach throughout the region, Baez trained with Gerosi at GEBA (Club Gimnasia y Esgrima de Buenos Aires), where they developed a strong bond and would remain very close over the years. Gerosi would later move to Santiago, where he lived until his passing, coaching a local junior at the same club where Baez triumphed on Sunday. In an ironic twist of fate, it all came full circle for the #NextGenATP Argentine.

"This trophy and this great tribute is dedicated to Chino, who is watching us from above," Baez said during the trophy ceremony. "These are my first two titles and both came in Chile, where he was coaching until his final moments. Chino, I hope that you are happy and that you are proud of this player from GEBA, which is an amazing place where I was lucky to train with you and play club tennis more than two years ago. Wherever you are, I just hope that you are happy and that I can continue making you proud."

Since the 1980s, Gerosi coached many Argentine juniors during his time at GEBA in Buenos Aires. The club is one of the more famous tennis facilities in the region and Gerosi's legend grew during his time there. He would go on to coach eventual Top 10 talents Gaston Gaudio, Guillermo Canas, Nicolas Massu and Mariano Puerta as well.

In what became the perfect tribute for Gerosi, Santiago tournament director Benjamín Benzaquén, a close friend of the renowned coach, had the trophy engraved in his honour. As an emotional Baez raised the piece of silverware over his head and stepped to the microphone to address the crowd, the moment took on added significance.

"This title is very important for my career and also because this is the last place that Chino Gerosi visited," Baez added. "I love him and so do my team and all the people from GEBA and Argentina too. I hope that he was happy for this week and all this hard work."

Baez, who defeated Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera 6-3, 7-6(4) in Sunday's championship, is the first player to claim multiple Challenger titles in 2021. He is also the youngest Argentine to lift his second trophy since a 19-year-old Federico Delbonis nearly 11 years ago (Rome 2010).

Baez is an integral part of a strong contingent of emerging Argentine players. Along with fellow #NextGenATP star and recent Cordoba Open champion Juan Manuel Cerundolo and his brother, Argentina Open finalist Francisco Cerundolo, the trio are surging up the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2021. Baez's consecutive Challenger crowns has him sitting at a career-high No. 216 on Monday. In addition, the Buenos Aires native joined Cerundolo in the Top 7 of the ATP Race To Milan, as both players look to punch their ticket to the Next Gen ATP Finals in November.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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