As we head into the holiday season which eventually means the end of the off-season for most top players, lower-ranked players are still grinding it out on the ITF Pro Circuit. With the 2016 Australian Open around the corner, most lower-ranked players are attempting to make one last push in order to earn a place in the qualifying draw of the first Grand Slam of the season.
Among those players is Paraguay's Veronica Cepede Royg. The Paraguayan number one needed to win the title in order to have any chance of getting into the qualifying draw, and she did just that. The world number 153 captured her 14th ITF singles title in Santiago, Chile, overcoming a second set letdown to defeat Germany's Anne Schaefer 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 in the hot and humid Chilean heat.
Cepede Royg, Kleybanova Capture Titles
Apart from the $25,000 tournament in Santiago that was won by Cepede Royg, all of the other tournaments on the women's calendar were $10,000 events, the lowest tier available on the ITF Pro Circuit.
Halfway across the world in the Middle East, Austria's Melanie Klaffner captured the title in Cairo, Egypt, home favourite Deniz Khazaniuk was victorious in Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan, Israel and Bulgaria's Isabella Shinikova was victorious in El Kantaoui, Tunisia. Klaffner got the better of Naomi Totka 6-4, 6-2 while Khazaniuk was victorious against Olga Doroshina 7-6(6), 6-3 and Shinikova routined Yana Sizikova 6-3, 6-2.
However, one of the biggest stories of the week would have to be about Alisa Kleybanova. The former world number 20 has been trying to rebuild her career after recovering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2012. The 26-year-old has been in Antalya, Turkey for the past month where she's been playing ITF tournaments on Turkish soil. In just her third tournament of 2015, Kleybanova captured the the $10,000 tournament in Antalya, her second title in three weeks, defeating Ani Amiraghyan 6-4, 6-3.
Americans Smith, Nguyen Crowned Champions
On the men's side of the spectrum, there was an astounding 13 tournaments for the men to choose from this week — four of which are classified as $15,000 tournaments. On Sunday, USA's Connor Smith and Daniel Nguyen, Artem Smirnov and Bastian Trinker were all crowned champions of these four $15,000 events ranging from the United States to Thailand.
Other winners this week included Spain's Pere Riba, United Kingdom's Llyod Glasspool and Luke Bambridge, as well as Ukraine's Denys Molchanov and the United States' very own Peter Kolbelt.
A Look at Next Week's Tournaments
Next week, 18 tournaments will be played simultaneously on the ITF Pro Circuit — 11 for the men and 7 for the women. These tournaments range from $10,000 to $15,000 in total prize money, and will be played in cities ranging from the Middle East to the African city of Lagos, Nigeria.