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The BMW Tennis Championship: Showcasing Tennis Stars on the Rise

Posted on February 24, 2010 by JA Allen
Juan Martin del Potro competing in 2007.

Juan Martin del Potro competing in 2007.

Touting former champions like Robin Soderling and Gael Monfils, plus previous top-ranked competitors like Juan Martin del Potro and Fernando Gonzalez, the 2010 BMW Tennis Championship Tournament gets underway the week of March 14th in Sunrise, Florida.

Just what is it that makes this increasingly popular ATP Challenger event so attractive to players and fans?

The BMW Tennis Championship falls sandwiched between two highly popular American Hard Court ATP Masters Series Tournaments –– the BNP Paribas Open at Indians Wells held March 8–21 and the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, scheduled March 22-April 4.

The BMW tennis tournament with its stellar location is poised offering premier scheduling starting the week of March 14th, making it an attractive destination for top-tier players upset early at Indian Wells.

Those players losing in early rounds in California wishing further match play before moving onto Miami, as well as other up and coming players on the ATP Tour seeking first-rate competition, find the BMW Tennis Championship in Sunrise a perfect solution.

Those factors along with its first-rate facilities and its player-friendly reputation make this challenger event a certifiable success story.

The tournament in Sunrise fills a definite need for players while providing fans with a great opportunity to watch some of the world’s best compete.

The BMW Tennis Championship has evolved into a win-win in everyone’s book –– which is the exact reason for Challenger Tour events.

It stands to reason that even Roger Federer had to start somewhere to learn the art of professional tennis competition.  He had to earn his way into the top tier of tennis events and he did so in large measure through participation in the ATP’s challenger tournaments.

There are actually three levels of competition for professionals.  At the top are the tournaments sponsored and under the auspices of the ATP known as the ATP World Tour. The second tier, also under the direction of the ATP is the Challenger Tour, formerly known as the Challenger Series.  The last tier are the Futures tournaments run by the ITF [International Tennis Federation].

The Challenger Tour offers a platform for all aspiring tennis greats –– providing venues as future stars fight their way to the top, including every player now ranked in the top 10 of the ATP Rankings.

Since the Challenger Series was conceived in 1990, the ATP has emphasized and promoted it, watching as its success continued to grow over the years.

Mischa Zverev of Germany

Mischa Zverev of Germany

Participating in Challenger tournaments allows players the opportunity to earn South African Airways ATP Ranking points according to the on-site prize money of each event. Prize money may range from $25,000 plus hospitality fees to $150,000.

Ranking points earned playing the Challenger Tour help a player move up the ATP ladder more quickly.

Points earned on tour translate into ATP ranking and, of course, the higher the ranking, the better the opportunity to compete in the more elite ATP events as well as gaining a more advantageous seeding.

In 2009, 162 Challenger tournaments were held in more than 50 countries throughout the world.

One of the best on the calendar is the BMW Tennis Championship located in Sunrise, offering $125,000 in prize money.  The format allows for 32 competitors in singles and 16 doubles teams.

Its inaugural tournament took place in 2004 at the inspiration of Tournament Director Gabe Norona who approached the ATP Organization when he became aware that the tournament in Indian Wells was going to expand to a 10-day event.

Tournament Director and officials awarding prize money to Haase and Grojean

Tournament Director and officials awarding prize money to Haase and Grojean

Norona felt that offering a Challenger Event during the second week of Indian Wells would be perfect timing –– just as other Challenger Events are scheduled during the second week of Grand Slam tournaments.

The ATP agreed and the BMW Tennis Championship Tournament has been growing in quality and reputation since that first year.

In 2004 the tournament was known as the Pro Tennis World Open and it was held in Boca Raton.  Some of the notables playing during the initial tournament were Todd Martin, Thomas Enqvist, Mario Ancic, Guillermo Canas and Igor Andreev.

But it was unseeded Juergen Melzer of Austria who won the singles competition defeating Thomas Enqvist of Sweden in the final 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.  Russians Igor Andreev and Dmitry Tursunov paired to win the doubles that year.

In 2005 the tournament moved to Sunrise, Florida and attracted another top-notch field.  The winner in singles that year was Karol Beck who defeated Italian Davide Sanguinetti 6-2, 6-2.  The field that year included Mark Philippousis, Dominik Hrbaty, Gilles Simon and big serving Ivo Karlovic.

Changing the name of the tournament to the BMW Tennis Championship in 2006, the tournament continued to attract outstanding talent to play as well as filling the stands with spectators who loved the competitive matches.  The singles champion in 2006 was Dmitry Tursunov who met and defeated Alberto Martin in the finals. Others in the field that year were Ivo Karlovic, Michael Llodra and Florent Serra.

Gael Monfils of France, winner in 2007.

Gael Monfils of France, winner in 2007.

In 2007 Frenchman Gael Monfils won the title over Andreas Seppi in three sets 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.  The field that year was extraordinary with Juan Martin del Potro, Ivo Karlovic, Dmitry Tursunov, Andreas Seppi, Gustavo Kuerten, Juan Monaco as well as others –– playing some brilliant tennis.

Robin Haase became the fifth man to win the singles title at the 2008 BMW Tennis Championship by defeating former top-five player Frenchman Sebastien Grojean 5-7, 7-5, 6-1.  The week’s competition also found top-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, Janko Tipsarevic, Jarkko Nieminen and Kei Nishikori in action.

But 2009 was probably the best of the best with Robin Soderling taking the BMW Tennis Championship from Tomas Berdych 6-1, 6-1.  It was a definitive win for the Swede Soderling over Berdych.  The field was loaded once again with Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, Thomas Johansson, Feliciana Lopez and Jose Acasuso adding to the tennis highlights of the week.

This year’s field for the 2010 BMW Tennis Championship is not finalized as yet but could potentially see Mikhail Youzhny, Gilles Simon, Jurgen Melzer, Janko Tipsarevic, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Almagro and many other exciting players.  The final field will be announced shortly before the tournament gets underway.

The BMW Tennis Championship continues to grow in stature and 2010 promises to be the best tournament yet…

Check the tournament out on the WebFacebook and Twitter.

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