Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Inaugural Cary Challenger in NC!

Another super late post.  Wanted to get this out of the way before my hiatus!

Finally, there was a challenger event close to me!  The $50K tournament held the week after the US Open in Cary (North Carolina), along with the later debutantes ($50K Columbus and $50K Las Vegas), was not part of the USTA Pro Circuit; thus, no commentating provided by the popular Mike Cation.  Per the tournament director (I think), they were approached by the USTA (United States Tennis Association) late in May.  With only a few months of preparation, I was impressed by the organization.  Besides the main attraction, there were several sideshows such as the fast serve contests, silent auctions (raised $1200 for charity), and food tents.  The whole community seemed to be involved.  Numerous kids volunteered to be ball carriers (they rotated ball kids every changeover during the weekend, partly to protect them from the scorching heat).

Center Court

Though not everything went according to plan.  There was an issue with lightning on center court so they had to schedule singles matches early.  That hurt the evening attendances in my opinion.  I wanted to attend during the weekdays, but was not going to drive half an hour just to watch one doubles match.  Also, parking was problematic.  It took me roughly half an hour to find a vacant spot in the elementary school lot across from the tennis complex on Sunday.  There was a soccer game going on at the same time.

Anyway,  I attended the Saturday and Sunday sessions.  The tickets were reasonable, $12 for the back rows, $15 for reserved seats (but there were no assigned seats really, you can sit anywhere).

The first match I saw was the Dennis Novikov and Brydan Klein semifinal.  Novikov, the Russian born American, was the the 2012 Kalamazoo Boys Champion and former UCLA star.  Brydan Klein, the Aussie who now played under the British flag, was the slight favorite based on seeding (7 vs 6) and he took the first set with ease, 6-1.  After the conclusion of the second set in which the 20 year old American won 7-5, I went to retrieve my umbrella from the car (heat was unbearable).  Klein served for the match at 5-4 but Novikov won 3 straight games to clinch a spot in his first career challenger final.

The next semifinal also involved a former collegiate star in fourth seed Blaz Rola.  The Slovenian won the 2013 NCAA Singles crown, making him the first Ohio Buckeye to accomplish the feat.  He also won the NCAA Doubles title with Chase Buchanan (the duo won the doubles title here in Cary, later on that).  His opponent was the crowd's favorite, 23 year old former Top 50er, Ryan Harrison.  It was an even match for the most part.  Rola kinda went away at the end to give Harrison the victory  4-6 7-5 6-2.

Afterwards, I watched the first set of the doubles semifinal between top seeds Austin Krajicek/Nicholas Monroe and Kevin King/Connor Smith.

In the Sunday finals, Novikov won his maiden challenger title 6-4 7-5 over Harrison and as mentioned earlier, Blaz Rola and Chase Buchanan were victorious over top seeds Austin Krajicek and Nicholas Monroe 6-4 6-7(5) 10-4.

For full results:
Singles Draw
Doubles Draw

Trophy Presentation and Interviews

Silent Auction (Yep this is ACC Country), this tennis facility was also home to the ACC Championships.

In conclusion, the first ever Cary Challenger was a nice experience but there is room for improvement.  I will be back next year for sure.

Always thinking of Rhyne #GetWellSoon
Wishing Rhyne Williams a quick recovery from his back surgery.  Rhyne gave an update on the operation and rehabilitation in his blog.   Can't wait to see him and Brian Baker back next year...for me, tennis is just not the same without them.


  1. Just found your blog when I did a Google search on Ernesto Escobedo, nice job. I'm one of those tennis fans who follows the Challengers online. Escobedo giving Austin K a battle right now, good tennis.

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