The TO2015 Pan Am Games torch made an appearance on Centre Court at the Canadian Tennis Centre on Wednesday, signalling the fast-approaching kick-off of play on Friday in Toronto. To get ready for the Games, here are a few athletes from across the Americas who you should be watching:
Country: Puerto Rico
Current Rank: No. 91
Puig is a WTA Rising Star who captured her first WTA title at Strasbourg in 2014. En route, she upset No. 4 seed Andrea Petkovic to become the first Puerto Rican to win a WTA title, with the win launching her to a career-high ranking of No. 41. Puig posted her best Slam result at Wimbledon in 2013, where she advanced to the fourth round and knocked out then-world No. 5 Sara Errani in straight sets in the first round. An aggressive baseliner who prefers hard courts, Puig won the inaugural WTA Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore at the end of the 2014 season. Her best result on the season is a semifinal finish at Pattaya City.
Country: United States
Current Rank: No. 75
A Top 100 mainstay since 2012, Davis started her season with a semifinal finish at Auckland where she upset No. 6 seed Sloane Stephens before falling to tennis superpower Venus Williams. In 2014, Davis reached the third round of two majors, the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and made her Top 50 debut last July when she hit a career-high ranking of No. 43. Following her performance at Auckland, Davis upset top seed and Canada’s own Eugenie Bouchard in the first round of Charleston before falling to fellow American Madison Keys in the quarters. Davis – a new addition to the U.S. Fed Cup team – is coming off a second-round finish at Wimbledon.
Beatriz Haddad Maia
Current Rank: No. 149
Haddad Maia has jumped 186 spots from her year-end ranking of No. 335 to her current ranking of No. 149. Early in the season, in front of a hometown crowd at the Rio Open, Haddad Maia – a wild card entrant – came close to upsetting No. 1 seed Sara Errani in a bid to reach the semifinals – and would have been only the second Brazilian to reach the final four at a WTA event in 25 years. The teen has collected four ITF singles titles and is a member of Brazil’s Fed Cup team. This year, Haddad Maia has claimed two doubles titles on the ITF circuit.
Current Rank: No. 227
Ormaechea first broke into the Top 100 in 2013 after advancing to the third round of the French Open, rising from No. 118 to No. 81. She followed that up with another third-round appearance at Roland Garros in 2014. Though she still has yet to secure a title on the WTA circuit, Ormaechea holds 10 ITF singles titles and has reached a career-high ranking of No. 59. Her best result on the WTA circuit is a runner-up finish at Bogota, losing in the final to former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in 2013.
Current Ranking: No. 570
Luz – the 17-year-old Brazilian – was ranked world No. 1 on the ITF junior world rankings just a couple months ago and is definitely a player to watch for in the future. He advanced to the top spot on the rankings when he captured the title at the Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan in May but has since fallen one spot to his current No. 2. Luz is also an accomplished doubles player. Last year, he and partner Marcelo Zormann beat top-seeded Stefan Kozlov and Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 in the title match to win the boys’ doubles crown at Junior Wimbledon and followed it up by capturing the gold medal at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics.
Current Ranking: No. 205
Lapentti, brother of former world No. 6 Nicolas Lapentti, is no stranger to the pro tour after turning pro in 2002 and accumulating 15 ITF singles titles and eight doubles titles. He’s also a veteran Team Ecuador member at Davis Cup, having made his debut at the age of 15. Still a threat on the court, his best result this season is advancing to the final at the Cali Challenger in Colombia. He took the first set off his opponent, Fernando Romboli, but fell in three sets.
Current Ranking: No. 137
A lefty, Bagnis earned his first 2015 title when he won the Santiago Challenger in Chile in March and shortly thereafter reached his career-high ranking of world No. 90. He has two ATP Challenger doubles titles on the year, at the Vicenza Challenger with Guido Pella without dropping a set and at the Sarasota Challenger with Facundo Arguello. At those same tournaments, he advanced into the singles quarter-finals at Vicenza and the singles final at Sarasota, falling to compatriot Federico Delbonis.
Current Ranking: No. 277
Barrientos has been on the upswing, reaching his first ATP doubles final at Bogota alongside Juan-Sebastian Cabal in 2014. He followed that up with a semifinal finish at Atlanta alongside Victor Estrella Burgos but fell to Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil, the 2014 Wimbledon doubles champions. Barrientos secured his first title of the year with a win at a Futures event in Mexico earlier this season. He adds that to four other career ITF titles including two wins at Futures events in Colombia last year. Barrientos is also an accomplished doubles player, ranked world No. 94. He won three Futures events and one Challenger title during the 2014 season and advanced to the second round at the US Open for the first time, making it his best doubles season to date.
Check back Friday for a look at the Canadian Pan Am team!