Get To Know Spain's Latest #NextGenATP Carlos Taberner
The #NextGenATP star entered the season with the goal of playing as many events on the ATP Challenger Tour as possible. After what he admitted weren't ideal results, Taberner has now reached at least the semi-finals in each of the past three weeks, including appearances in the title match in both Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Sibiu, Romania.
"My goal at the beginning of the year was to compete full-time on the Challenger Tour," Taberner said. "I've been working really [hard] from the beginning of the season.
"I would come through qualifiers and not do well in the main draw. The results didn’t come and the months were passing. Now I've reached two Challenger finals in a row -- in Banja Luka and Sibiu. I am very happy with my form. I’ve started to play better and have more confidence now."
Taberner has a chance to make it three Challenger finals in a row with an impressive showing this week. On Friday, he stormed past Argentina's Patricio Heras 6-4, 6-3 to book a spot against veteran countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Despite the busy schedule and recent runs deep into tournaments, Taberner doesn't feel fatigue will be a factor as the week reaches the business end. The Spaniard is most comfortable on clay -- his favourite surface -- and relishes the opportunity to play in Rome.
"I'm very happy because I won three matches this week and I will play in the semi-finals on Saturday," Taberner said. "It will be tough, but I am prepared for that match.
"This is very special to me because after Spain, Italy is my second country; I like it so much here. Rome is very beautiful and the club is also very nice. I’m happy here."
The recent string of positive results has propelled Taberner to a career-high No. 199 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Currently, he's the top Spaniard in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan at No. 23 and one of five players from Spain in the Top 50.
Still, one thing has eluded him so far that two of his #NextGenATP countrymen have achieved: an ATP Challenger title.
17-year-old Nicola Kuhn, at No. 27 in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, captured the Braunschweig Challenger in Germany as a qualifier in July. Less than a month later, Jaume Munar, at No. 34 in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, earned his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Segovia, Spain.
For Taberner's part, he feels no pressure to compete for trophies. Instead, he’s choosing to focus on how to enhance his own game, knowing that his fellow #NextGenATP stars aren't his only competition: Seasoned stalwarts returning from injuries as well as grizzled veterans also lurk week in and week out on the Challenger Tour.
"[Kuhn and Munar] did really well to win Challenger titles; that isn't easy," Taberner said. "But to be honest, I am only thinking of myself and trying to improve day by day; I try to be a better player every day.
"The level [on the Challenger Tour] is very high because there are really good players here. There are some top players that were injured and coming back as well as some of the young players trying to make it on the Tour. It’s a really high level of play."
Based on his own high level of play as of late, Taberner is proving he can hold his own against all types on the Challenger Tour.
At what age did you start playing tennis? 8 years old
What is your favourite shot and favourite surface? Forehand and clay court
What is your biggest strength on the court? My heart
Who were your favourite tennis players/idols growing up? David Ferrer
When you're not playing tennis, what do you enjoy doing? Spend time with friends
What is your favourite soccer team? Levante
What would you want to do if you weren't playing tennis? Be a football player
Where do you train? Lozano-Altur Tennis Academy in Valencia, Spain