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Challenger Weekly Spotlight: College Champ Rola Rolls To Maiden Title

Rola© Robert Davis2013 NCAA champion Blaz Rola (left) claimed his first Challenger title in Guangzhou.

Revisit the week that was on the ATP Challenger Tour as we applaud the achievements of those on the rise and look ahead to who’s in action in the week to come.


ATP Challenger Guangzhou (Guangzhou, China): Blaz Rola, winner of the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship for Ohio State University, captured his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title with a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yuichi Sugita. The Slovenian, who has risen to a career-high World No. 128 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, won his first Grand Slam match at this year's Australian Open as a qualifier. Sugita dropped to 2-5 in Challenger finals with the loss.

Read Guangzhou dispatch

Challenger La Manche (Cherbourg, France): In the northern French city of Cherbourg, home favourite and top seed Kenny de Schepper won his fourth title in eight finals, stopping World No. 194 Norbert Gombos in the final. De Schepper prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in his first title match since finishing runner-up to Nicolas Mahut in Rennes last October. The 23-year-old Gombos featured in his first final on the Challenger circuit, having upset three seeded opponents during the week.

Challenger ATP de Salinas Diario Expreso (Salinas, Colombia): Top seed Victor Estrella Burgos reached consecutive Challenger finals, triumphing in Salinas a week after registering a runner-up finish in Morelos, Mexico. The Dominican improved to 19-5 on the ATP Challenger Tour since early November of last year, defeating first-time finalist Andrea Collarini, of Argentina, 6-3, 6-4 for the title.


Estrella (pictured left) won his fourth Challenger title in Salinas. The trophy is a work of art by the famous Ecuadorian artist and sculptor Larissa Marangoni. Photo credit: SalinasOpen2014

What the Players are Saying 
Rola: "Though I had tough three set matches in the first and second rounds and again today, I always felt good on the court. Even today, when I lost the first set in a tiebreak I was thinking, 'ok, I only lost one point on my serve before the tiebreak, so I am playing good, let's see if he can keep it up for the whole match.' I trusted myself.

"Since I arrived in Guangzhou, I felt really good about my game on these courts. I started with a new coach during the Indian circuit and some of the things we changed have started to take effect and I feel the improvement. This is my first time in China, and I will definitely be back again."

Estrella: "This is the first time I enter (the Top 100) and that's another reason to celebrate this victory.

"It's been a fantastic month, without a doubt the best moment of my professional career. Salinas has a place in my heart for everything it has given me."

They Tweeted It

Twitter@Vitiestrella80 (Victor Estrella Burgos)
There are no words to describe what I am feeling, it is a dream realized after much effort and having overcome adversity. Very appreciative of everyone.

@K2Schepper (Kenny de Schepper)
Thank you very much for all your messages. It's been really fun #support !

@DreddyTennis (Dustin Brown)
Left Cherbourg @ 6pm, Arriving Germany Around 2am... 800km, Traffic Jams & Detours... #TruckDriver #LevelMaster

The lone tournament on the calendar this week is in Kyoto, Japan, where Go Soeda, the champion in 2008, leads the field at the indoor carpet courts of the Hannaryz Arena. Three of the top four seeds are Japanese, including No. 3 seed and 2012 champion Tatsuma Ito and fourth seed and 2010 titlist Yuichi Sugita.

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