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Nedovyesov Eyes Strong Finish At Challenger Tour Finals

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Nedovyesov© Prague Open 2013Oleksandr Nedovyesov is a three-time champion on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2013.

The dilemma facing many teens looking to foster a career in professional tennis is a significant one: Turn pro or go to college? 

In recent years, the trend toward enrolling in a university in order to develop a stronger foundation and sharpen talents has become more prevalent, especially in the United States. While everyone’s personal situation varies, there is no doubt that with the growing physical nature of the sport and the fact that players are competing well into their 30s, putting in the time at the front-end of your career can yield beneficial results.

Oleksandr Nedovyesov, voted for 2009 ITA Player of the Year honours at Oklahoma State University, is in the midst of a meteoric climb up the Emirates ATP Rankings and will be one of eight men vying for the ATP Challenger Tour Finals crown, from 13-17 November. Held on outdoor clay in Sao Paulo, at the Sociedade Harmonia de Tenis, this is the third edition of the year-end championships on the Challenger circuit.

For the Ukrainian, the transition to living in the United States wasn’t an easy one, but Nedovyesov considers attending college a valuable experience for both his tennis career and life in general. 

“I learned a lot there, especially how to live by myself,” Nedovyesov said. “I lived four and a half years away from my family and I didn’t take any money from my parents at the time. It was a really useful experience and if anyone asks me if I would do it again, I would definitely say yes.”

ATP Challenger Tour Finals Preview

John Isner, the current World No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, attended the University of Georgia, while legend John McEnroe was a national champion at Stanford. A tennis career at the collegiate level in the U.S. isn’t limited to Americans, as evidenced by Nedovyesov. South African Kevin Anderson, currently ranked No. 20 in the world, went to the University of Illinois, while two-time ATP World Tour finalist Somdev Devvarman, from India, attended the University of Virginia. Devvarman, the top collegiate tennis player in 2007 and 2008, isn’t the only former ITA Player of the Year seeking to forge a path on the ATP World Tour.

Under the tutelage of recently retired head coach James Wadley, who led the tennis team for 40 years in Stillwater, Nedovyesov finished his junior season as the top-ranked player in the country and earned first-team academic honours.

His success on the collegiate level has translated well to the ATP Challenger Tour. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment came this year when, having been mired outside the Top 1000 in March of 2012, the Ukrainian soared to a career-high World No. 95 after hoisting the trophy in Kazan three weeks ago. 

“The Challengers are a high level every week. It’s stronger and more competitive now than ever.” Nedovyesov said. “They give you a lot of confidence, no doubt about it.”

The 6’4” Alushta native also claimed titles on the clay of Prague and Szczecin and reached the final in Samarkand. He qualified for his first ATP World Tour main draw in Moscow last month.

At 26 years old, he believes the biggest challenge to succeeding at the highest levels of tennis is “the belief that you can compete”. Nedovyesov exclaims that he always desires more. “If I can improve a little on everything—serve, backhand, forehand, volleys—that would have a huge impact for me. I think I’m solid all around but there are always areas to improve.”

The Ukrainian, who idolised Marat Safin and countryman Andrei Medvedev growing up, is excited to begin his quest for a title at the season finale. “At the beginning of the year I wanted to be there, but I knew I wasn’t playing the way I wanted to. Then, once I won the Challenger in Szczecin, Poland, I realised I had a pretty good chance.

“After that, it became one of my two goals. First, to qualify for the ATP Challenger Tour Finals. Second, to be in the Top 100.” 

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