With the Australian Open right around the corner, many lower ranked players are still battling it out on the ITF Pro Circuit in order to acquire precious ranking points that will give them an opportunity to gain entry into the qualifying draws of the Grand Slams.
Jabeur, Majeric Victorious This Week
One of those players is Tunisia's Ons Jabeur. The WTA Rising Star had a very up-and-down 2015 season that saw her fall from from a career high of number 118 in the world to number 224, consequently missing the cutoff for the qualifying draws of the Grand Slams. In order to rebuild her ranking, Jabeur is playing numerous ITF events in order to get more matches and wins under her belt. This week, the Tunisian, seeded third, came back from the brink multiple times and overcame the Floridian heat to capture the $25,000 event of Daytona Beach. In the final, Jabeur overcame the dreaded opening set bagel before turning the match around on a dime, defeating Ukraine's Olga Fridman 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes.
Elsewhere, Slovenia's Tadeja Majeric was victorious in Aurangabad, capturing the $25,000 title with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-3 win over top seed Valeriya Strakhova. The 25-year-old certainly didn't make things easy for herself; three of the four matches she played prior to the final all went the distance, with one match in particular ending with a very peculiar 6-0, 0-6, 6-0 score line. With that being said, it was still a fantastic week for the Slovenian, who captured her eighth ITF singles title on Saturday, and one that she hopes to build on after a disappointing 2015 season.
Other winners this week included Chantal Skamlova, Irina Ramialison, Anna Blinkova, Angelica Moratelli and Ekaterine Gorgodze, who all won $10,000 events in cities ranging from Fort-de-France (Martinique), France and Hammamet, Tunisia.
Hanfmann, Paul Capture Titles
On the men's side, the biggest tournament of the week was won by Germany's Yannick Hanfmann. The 24-year-old German currently ranked 660 in the world, tore through the draw, defeating players ranked 100 to 300 spots higher who had enjoyed a lot more success at the ITF level. In the final, Hanfmann outclassed Michael Mmoh - six years his junior - 6-4, 6-0 in 56 minutes to capture just his third ITF singles title.
Elsewhere, American and former junior Grand Slam champion Tommy Paul won his third ITF singles title at the young age of 18 this week, capturing the USA F3 Futures event in Plantation, Florida, overcoming a number of rain delays to defeat Frenchman Adrien Puget 7-6(4), 6-0. Paul, who ended 2015 ranked outside of the top 900 in 2014, jumped more than 600 spots in the rankings to his career high of number 277 in the world. If the 18-year-old can keep making the necessary improvements to his game, there is no reason why he can't be a threat on the ATP World Tour in the next five to ten years.
Other winners this week include Yannik Reuter, Daniel Masur, Pedro Sousa and Vadym Ursu, who all won $10,000 events in Europe and the Middle East.
A Look at Next Week's Tournaments
Next week, there will be 14 tournaments on offer - seven for each tour - ranging from Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt to Guaruja, Brazil to Wesley Chapel, Florida.
Amidst all the chaos at the Australian Open, be sure to check back here next week for your weekly ITF roundup!