Tennis Prose



Sarasota Open Begins

By Scoop Malinowski

The Sarasota Open ATP Challenger has new owners, a new venue in downtown Sarasota at Payne Park, and a woman reportedly worth hundreds of millions to fund it, so there is a totally new different energy at this year’s tournament sponsored by Elizabeth Moore. Prize money has been doubled from $100,000 to $200,000.

I stopped by to watch some players practice. Brian Gottfried, who played in the Roland Garros final vs Guillermo Vilas, was doing a busy, packed clinic with kids and adults.

The first players I saw practicing were Tennys Sandgren with Michael Torpegaard. Sandgren is using a new Dunlop racquet (no more Wilson) – “I like it, I like it” – and a new clothing line called One, a deal which he set up via Instagram contact. He said One is based in England and it’s made of recycled materials.

Christian Harrison was next to practice with workhorse Sandgren and the Bradenton native who lives about ten miles away from the venue, also has a new clothing brand, the 27 year old who made the semis of Delray Beach in 2021 now wears Uomo Sport. Harrison is not sure if he will play qualies or main draw yet. Christian was kind enough to do a Biofile after practice.

17-year-old Arthur Fils looked impressive playing 23-year-old Alexis Galarneau from Montreal. Fils told me in the Biofile he loves Federer but he actually plays more like Nadal. Fils won the Orange Bowl a couple of years ago, saving match point in the first round vs Michael Zheng, a friend from New Jersey. Since then Fils won Roland Garros doubles in juniors last year and he made finals in singles. Fils is ranked 431 in the ATP now and coached by Jerome Potier, who played Jimmy Connors in Toulouse in 1989. Potier was once ranked 68 in the world and has wins vs Annacone, Arias, Rosset, Agenor, Mancini.

Fils has the aura of a young player who is going to explode onto the scene soon. He’s been playing Challengers in France and lost close matches to Robin Haase, Vasek Pospisil and Quentin Halys this year. But this year he has also beaten Haase and Roman Safiullin. Fils, sponsored by Asics and Babolat, played French Open qualies last year and beat Bernard Tomic in three sets and then lost 2R to Marc Polmans 61 63.

You might want to keep an eye on this dynamic, explosive young talent who is also a very polite and engaging friendly interview (see his Biofile to be posted next week).

Fils is here in the US for Sarasota, Tallahassee and Savannah Challengers.

I did a third Biofile today with Jason Jung.

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