Bolt returns to qualify in Happy Valley
Alex Bolt returns from nine-month hiatus to qualify at ATP Challenger in Happy Valley joining fellow South Australian Luke Saville in the main draw.
Six Aussies including two South Australians will take their place amongst a strong international field at this year’s City of Onkaparinga Tennis Challenger in Happy Valley.
Alex Bolt and Luke Saville both fought their way through qualifying on Monday to secure main draw berths in their home ATP Challenger event, joining teenage wildcards Omar Jasika, Blake Mott, Marc Polmans and Max Purcell.
After a nine-month hiatus from the game, Bolt has looked particularly impressive thus far, defeating Kazakh Andrey Golubev on Sunday before taking out Dayne Kelly in the final round. The 23-year-old former world No.164 will now take on Japan’s Tatsuma Ito with either Jasika or Slovakian Norbert Gombos, the fifth seed, waiting in the wings.
“This is my first tournament since March so it’s good to be back,” Bolt said. “I’m loving playing tennis again. It’s great fun and hopefully this run continues.”
“I love playing (in Happy Valley). It’s great to have my friends and family around supporting me. I’ve had good results here in the past so it’s something I can draw from when I play.”
Fellow local Saville will be looking to reverse a two-match losing streak against Purcell, 18, when they meet in the first round, with the winner to play sixth seed Darian King of Barbados, an opening round winner on Monday.
Polmans and Mott look to have more considerable tasks ahead of them, with the duo taking on Canadian Peter Polansky (seeded No.4) and big-serving German veteran Daniel Brands respectively. They will face off in the second round should they each successfully navigate their opening encounters.
Top-seeded American Donald Young will also be tested early, having drawn Belgian Ruben Bemelmans first up. While the pair have never met previously, Bemelmans is a former world No.84 and was twice an ATP Challenger finalist in 2016 (Charlottesville and Champaign).
Young, the world No.88 and the only player currently inside the top 100 competing at Happy Valley, is on a collision course with rising American teen Michael Mmoh – Monday’s other first round victor – in a quarterfinal, with the winner potentially meeting another countryman, third seed Denis Kudla, at the semifinal stage.
Second seed Joao Souza of Brazil finds himself opposed to German Matthias Bachinger in the first round with Polansky, Gombos and eighth-seeded Marton Fucsovics of Hungary all lurking dangerously in his half of the draw.