Tennis Birthdays – Oct. 5, 2015

A couple of the newer young fellas on Tour celebrate.

Federico Delbonis (ARG), 24

At a career high No. 34 just before the 2014 year’s French Open, the Argentine was at No. 62 a year ago and is currently at No. 57, so he’s sort of treading water.

The lefty has his moments, especially on clay, but the transition many South Americans have to make from “very good clay-court Challenger guy” to full-time ATP-level pro is going to have its ups and downs. Delbonis has played just about every ATP-level clay-court event there is, and upset Stan Wawrinka in his “hometown” tournament in Geneva before the French Open. After Roland Garros, he even went to Milan to play a clay-court challenger, which he won to bring his ranking back inside the top 80.

Federico Delbonis_new

Delbonis at the 2014 Australian Open

He also went back on the dirt right after Wimbledon for several events, including Davis Cup against Serbia where he came back from a two-sets-to-none deficit to defeat Viktor Troicki. He played three more clay events after that, lost in the first round at Winston-Salem and the US Open and Metz and both his Davis Cup matches vs. Belgium – all on hard court.

The pattern isn’t tough to see.

Delbonis got it back on track by winning a clay-court Challenger in Rome last week; watching him play it seems as though he has enough game to do well on the hard courts as well. But he’s got to at least give himself a chance and play on them as much as he can, for his long-term prospects.

Then again, he can probably make a decent living sticking to the dirt. Depends what your ambitions are.

A fit-looking Delbonis at the US Open last month.

A fit-looking Delbonis at the US Open last month.

Delbonis what you we used to call “husky” – i.e. not necessarily, by virtue of his DNA, an athletic machine. To take the next step, he has to address that. And he’s been noticeably fitter with every passing year.

Richey Reneberg (USA), 50

Richey RenebergThe solid American player hit the top-20 in singles in 1991, and has three singles titles on his resumé. But it was in doubles that he made his best moves. He hit No. 1 in 1993 and won 19 titles, including the U.S. Open doubles in 1992 with Jim Grabb, and the 1995 Australian Open doubles with Jared Palmer.

Reneberg starred for three years in college at SMU before hitting the pro circuit; he was the newcomer of the year on the ATP Tour in 1987.

He currently works for a financial firm in New York.

Caroline Delisle (CAN), 46

Caroline DelisleOne of the better players to come out of Quebec, long before the Aleksandra Wozniak, Steph Dubois and Genie Bouchard eras, Delisle (from Chicoutimi), Delisle stalled at No. 237 in singles on the pro tour, but did crack the top 100 in doubles. She won five doubles title on the ITF circuit.

She played most often with fellow québécoise Mélanie Bernard; the pair got to the third round of the French Open doubles together in 1995; they lost to Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva which was, you know, not a bad loss.

Delisle was an all-American at Oklahoma State, and currently has an academy at the indoor club in Saguenay, back on her home turf.

Florian Mayer (GER), 32

Mayer, a top-20 player after reaching a career high No. 18 after the 2011 French Open and the modern-day equivalent to Fabrice (The Magician) Santoro with his assortment of funky shots, is currently trying to come back after a long injury layoff.

Florian Mayer_new

Mayer retired due to what was called a “leg injury” in the second round at Indian Wells last year. He played one match at Miami before pulling out. It was then referred to as a groin injury – a torn tendon in his right adductor; he didn’t play until returning to the Tour at Monte Carlo this past April.

It’s been a tough go; Mayer retired, down two sets to one and 0-3 against Martin Klizan in the first round of the US Open because of cramping (he was hardly the only one). And he hasn’t played since.

He’s using a protected ranking; his actual ranking stands at No. 211.

Blaz Rola (SLO), 24

Coming from Slovenia, you probably wouldn’t expect Rola to have taken the U.S. college route. But that’s exactly what he did, starring at Ohio State and winning the NCAA singles title in 2013 (he won the doubles title in 2012) and majoring in international business.

Blaz Rola_new

He was the Ohio State “male athlete of the year” in 2013 (and yes, they do have a football team), and also an all-academic honoree – no small feat for a guy who is probably on his third language.

Rola is really just getting started, having reached No. 78 at the beginning of this season.  And there are plenty of examples out of the college ranks these days to think that he has a good future. He’s got the size, at 6-foot-4.

He’s currently at No. 137, though, playing on clay as much as he can. He’s currently on his fourth Challenger in the U.S. after losing in the first round of US Open qualifying to American teenager Tommy Paul.


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