Challenger Season Kicks Off In Paradise
Action on the ATP Challenger Tour is set to take off as the 2017 season gets underway this week with a trio of tournaments. NextGen stars begin their quests in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, with Noumea, Happy Valley and Bangkok playing host to the opening-week events.
For the 14th consecutive year, the French territory of New Caledonia kicks off the season. The island paradise, located off the eastern coast of Australia, welcomes players to the Ligue de Tennis du Ouen-Toro in the capital city of Noumea. Defending champion Adrian Mannarino is the top seed and bidding for a third title in five years, while Next Gen ATP Finals contenders Duckhee Lee, Quentin Halys and Noah Rubin feature in a stacked draw.
Why would anyone want to come Noumea?....🌴🌅 pic.twitter.com/TjiI57kFmR— Noah Rubin (@Noahrubin33) December 30, 2016
Lee, seeded third, reached his first Challenger final in Kaohsiung in September, while Halys, seeded fourth, is seeking a second title (Tallahassee '16).
Meanwhile, Michael Mmoh kicks off his campaign in Happy Valley, Australia, where countryman Donald Young is the top seed. The 18-year-old Mmoh is surging with confidence after clinching his maiden Challenger title in Knoxville in November, climbing inside the year-end Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 198. An American has won the title in Happy Valley in both its previous editions - Ryan Harrison (2015) and Taylor Fritz (2016).
The season-long Emirates ATP Race to Milan will see the world’s best up-and-coming talents battle to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals, taking place from 7-11 November, 2017. The Top 7 players born in 1996 or later will qualify automatically, while the eighth spot will be reserved for a wild card.
Finally, the KPN Bangkok Open is back for a ninth year, with former World No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic seeded fifth. Three past champions have returned, as 2015 winner Yuichi Sugita is the top seed and 2013 titlist Blaz Kavcic and 2011 champ Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also present.