© Marta Magni

Stefano Napolitano has won five of his past six matches on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Napolitano Looks To Become Next Italian Star

The 21 year old reached his first ATP Challenger Tour final last week

Italy has long been represented on the ATP World Tour by veterans Fabio Fognini, Paolo Lorenzi and Andreas Seppi, but a new crop of Italian players are emerging on the ATP Challenger Tour.

One of them is 21-year-old Stefano Napolitano. The 6’5” player has climbed nearly 140 spots this season in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Last week, he reached his first ATP Challenger Tour final as a wild card entrant into the $50,000 tournament in Todi, Italy, where he narrowly lost to Miljan Zekic of Serbia.

“It had great meaning for me to play my first Challenger final in Todi,” said Napolitano. “I still remember when I was five years old and working as a ball boy at the Challenger that my dad organised at his tennis club in Biella. Being on court in a Challenger final not as a ball boy, but as a player, was an amazing feeling.”

Napolitano is continuing his run of form at this week’s $50,000 event in San Benedetto, Italy. Competing under the lights on Tuesday, he advanced past Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain, 7-6(6), 6-2.

Having literally grown up around an ATP Challenger Tour event, Napolitano has firsthand knowledge on what makes them successful. It’s for that reason that his rave reviews of San Benedetto have some added weight to them.

“The atmosphere here in San Benedetto is really nice,” said Napolitano. “The tournament is well organised and the staff does a great job giving the best possible service to the players. So many people are coming to watch the matches and the night sessions in particular are amazing.”

The Italian said he spent his off-season working on making his game more aggressive, which included beefing up his serve and being “more prepared mentally and physically.” He’s hoping his hard work in training sessions will lead to a place inside the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings by the end of the year.

“I’m going to try and play the qualifying of some ATP World Tour events and hopefully improve my ranking enough to play the qualifying of the Australian Open,” said Napolitano. “But for now, it would be great for me to play another Challenger final and win it this time.”

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