Longest-Running Challenger Continues To Thrive In San Luis Potosi
Cast your mind back to Mexico in 1980. Most players were still plying their trade with wooden racquets when the inaugural edition of the longest-running ATP Challenger Tour event, the San Luis Open, took place at the historic Club Deportivo Potosino, one of the most renowned sports clubs in the country.
This week, the clay-court event, one of seven Challengers to debut in the 1980s that's still in existence today, is celebrating its 31st edition.
“I think it’s so special because it’s the oldest tournament on the Challenger Tour. Great players have come here, we’ve had a former World No. 1 play here (Marcelo Rios played his last competitive match here in 2004) and we get top junior players,” said tournament director Carlos Saiz Diaz Infante. “They like to come here because it’s a very nice site and we have a very good crowd here every day.”
The reputation of the tournament has built incrementally over the years, which Infante believes is due to the dedication of those behind the scenes.
“I think the tournament has managed to last so long because people working on the tournament have done an amazing job,” added Infante. “The team that has worked through the years, from the beginning, the founders, to all the people who have offered helped have done a great job.”
Longest-Running Tournaments On ATP Challenger Tour
|San Luis Potosi, MEX||1980|
The Club Deportivo Potosino hosts hordes of ardent tennis supporters throughout the week-long event and the players have taken notice.
“I think it’s a really good tournament, with a long, impressive history,” said #NextGenATP player Stefan Kozlov. “It’s a very nice club to play at, with a phenomenal crowd, even in the night matches.”
The welcoming atmosphere and passionate crowds keep the players returning to the Mexican tennis scene.
"This tournament is very special for me. I've been coming here the past five years and I reached my first Challenger semi-final here in 2014 and my first final last year (l.Krstin),” said seventh seed Marcelo Arevalo. “It has given me a lot of experiences and great memories. This week, I'm still alive in singles and doubles and I'm giving 100 per cent in every match. I'm dreaming of winning this title, because it's one of my favourite Challengers and is very well organised, it feels great.”
Kozlov, currently at No. 135 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, believes performing well at this level is vital for a player’s long-term development.
“I think it’s a great springboard into the ATP Tour. It’s tough to get there, you have to build your way up,” explained the 19-year-old. “All of those players have been on the Challenger Tour, some have played less, but I think it’s great. You don’t have the big guys here, which gives you more of a chance to play more matches.
“It’s a process, it’s going to take time to achieve your goals. It won’t all happen overnight. You just have to keep working hard, discipline is very important.”