The list of players for the fifth edition of the Drummondville National Bank Challenger was unveiled on Thursday. The tournament, which offers $54,160 in total prize money, will be played from March 11-17 at the René-Verrier indoor tennis club in Drummondville.
While there are currently no Canadian players in the main draw, Benjamin Sigouin (Vancouver, BC) and Taha Baadi (Laval, QC) have received two of the five available tournament wild cards. The 19-year-old Sigouin is a former no. 4 ranked junior player who is currently competing in the NCAA while pursuing his education at the University of North Carolina. At last year’s tournament, he lost a tightly fought first round match. Later in the year, he captured his first professional title when he was crowned doubles champion at the Kelowna Futures.
For his part, Baadi is a current member of Tennis Canada’s National Tennis Centre in Montreal. In 2017, he was the U16 and U18 Indoor Junior Nationals Champion. He is participating in only his fifth singles main draw at the professional level, having yet to claim his first victory. Last year in Drummondville, he fell in the second round of qualifying.
Steven Diez (Toronto, ON) will also be competing in the 2019 edition of the tournament. Currently two spots out of the main draw, the 27-year-old is set to make his first appearance in Drummondville. No stranger to Canadian events, Diez has played in a number of local tournaments and he even reached the finals at the Mississauga Futures event in 2011. Since the start of the year, he has already won one Challenger title in Australia.
“We have a few young Canadian players who are set to take part in this year’s tournament. Since its inauguration, this event has been a stepping stone in the careers of many of our athletes and we hope that this year’s group are able to gain valuable experience that will help them develop their game and bring them to the next level,” stated Tournament Director Richard Quirion.“Our tournament also attracts some of the top tennis talent around the world and this year is no exception. We are proud to welcome two former Top 50 players as well as a number of rising talents who are eager to gain more experience playing on the professional tour. We are in for a week of high quality tennis.”
There will be eight players returning to the tournament after having competed in 2018. Leading the way is the defending champion, American Denis Kudla who is slated to be the top seed. Currently ranked no. 61 in the world, Kudla had a strong season last year, winning one singles and one doubles title and breaking back into the Top 100 for the first time since 2016. He will be joined by two former Top 50 players in Ricardas Berankis and Marcel Granollers as the tournament’s top seeds. In his career, Berankis has reached two ATP 250 finals, has posted two victories over Top 10 players and was the No. 1 junior player in 2007. For his part, Granollers was ranked no. 19 back in 2012 and holds four career ATP singles titles. He was also the 2012 doubles champion at the ATP Finals.
The Drummondville National Bank Challenger is part of the group of tournaments sponsored by National Bank, a group that includes combined events in Granby and Gatineau as well as a men’s Challenger in Calgary and two women’s Challengers in Saguenay and Winnipeg.
Click here to consult the complete player list.
*Feature photo: Sarah-Jäde Champagne