Peniston, Darderi Win Maiden Challenger Titles

Lestienne wins Challenger 125 event in California
August 21, 2023
Ryan Peniston wins the Challenger 100 event in Winnipeg, Canada.
Dave Mahussier
Ryan Peniston wins the Challenger 100 event in Winnipeg, Canada. By Grant Thompson

Ryan Peniston toughed out a tricky week at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Winnipeg, Canada to lift his maiden title at that level.

The 27-year-old dropped just five games across his first three matches before needing a deciding set in his semi-final and final contests. Peniston ousted #NextGenATP Swiss Leandro Riedi 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the championship match to triumph at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger presented by MBuilds.

“It feels amazing, after having [lost] three finals before and losing the second set, I was [having] negative thoughts,” Peniston said. “I managed to keep fighting and pull through to the end. I’ve just been taking it one match at a time, one point at a time.”

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Peniston, who entered the main draw as an alternate, fought through blustery conditions all week to be crowned champion.

“I grew up by the sea, playing with windy conditions since I was young,” said Peniston, who is No. 208 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. “So I definitely like playing in the wind. That helped big time.”

Also in Winnipeg, Briton Jack Draper returned to the match court after spending two months sidelined with a shoulder injury. In his first tournament since Roland Garros, the 21-year-old reached the quarter-finals and will next compete at the ATP 250 event in Winston-Salem.

In other Challenger Tour action, Jesper de Jong did not drop a set all week to win the Lotto Kozerki Open in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland. The 23-year-old defeated Lebanon’s Benjamin Hassan 6-3, 6-3 in the final to lift his first Challenger trophy since June 2021.

“It means a lot. A new career high, it means my first Challenger on hard court and second Challenger title,” De Jong said. “It’s a good step in the right direction. I’m happy to make another step.”

<a href=''>Jesper de Jong</a> wins the Challenger 100 event in Grodzisk Mazowiecki.
Jesper de Jong in action at the Grodzisk Mazowiecki Challenger. Credit: Piotr Kucza

The Dutchman, who is at No. 143 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, will next attempt to qualify for his first major main-draw appearance this week at the US Open.

“My alarm is set for 3 a.m., then at six we fly to Paris and then to New York,” De Jong said on Saturday. “It’s going to be tough, but that’s the life of a tennis player. Not much time to celebrate. Tomorrow it’s all focus on New York.”

#NextGenATP Italian Luciano Darderi completed a dream week on home soil at the Internazionali di Tennis Citta di Todi, where the seventh seed survived Frenchman Clement Tabur 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1 in the final to win his first Challenger crown.

<a href=''>Luciano Darderi</a> wins his first Challenger title in Todi, Italy.
Luciano Darderi wins his first Challenger title in Todi, Italy. Credit: Yuri Serafini

A finalist at the Buenos Aires Challenger in April, the 21-year-old Darderi is 18th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Next Gen Race as he aims for maiden qualification to the Next Gen ATP Finals.

“I feel really good. It’s my third final so I’m very happy to win it here in Italy with my people,” Darderi said. “I think it’s a positive week here. I will keep trying to do my best.”

Frenchman Constant Lestienne won his seventh Challenger title at the Golden Gate Open in Stanford, California, where he defeated home hope Emilio Nava 7-6(4), 6-2 in the final.

Lestienne, seeded fourth, needed a dramatic comeback in the opening round, saving seven match points against Dane Sweeny, to stay alive before not dropping a set the remainder of the week.

The 31-year-old Lestienne, who reached a career-high No. 48 in February, earned his first title since last August, when he won the Vancouver Challenger.

<a href=''>Constant Lestienne</a> wins the Challenger 125 event in Stanford, California.
Constant Lestienne wins the Challenger 125 event in Stanford, California. Credit: Lani-Rae Green

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