De Voest captures Canadian Challenger title | SASCOC - SASCOC

De Voest captures Canadian Challenger title

Veteran SA tennis player Rik de Voest was crowned champion at the $35,000 Banque Natioanale de Rimouski ATP Challenger event in Canada at the weekend, writes Mark Etheridge.

Currently ranked 343rd on the ATP Tour rankings, De Voest beat top seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada in the final, winning in straight sets 7-6 (6) 6-4. Pospisil is ranked way higher than De Voest (129th). During the tournament he beat four players ranked higher than him.

De Voest explained the reason for his recent lack of success until now. “At the end of last year I switched rackets, and so it took some time adjusting to the new frames. My coach made some added suggestions to the weight and balance of the frames during the Australian Open, and I believe I have now found the winning balance.

“My run started about a month ago, in San Jose at the ATP event. I came through the qualifying round, (beating some good players), before falling in the first round of the main draw. But it was good to win some matches.

“I then decided to play in a smaller event to gain some confidence, so I played a Futures event in Texas. I ended up winning five matches in five days to win the tournament. So that was a nice boost.The following week, I flew to Indian Wells and played in a wild card play-off for a wild card into the qualifying rounds (as my ranking had dropped and I didn’t gain direct access). I won six matches in a row here to earn the wild card, and then beat a player ranking just outside the top 100 in my first match before falling in the final round of qualifying.”

The next week saw the 32-year-old playing a smaller Futures event in Canada where he made it to the quarter-finals.

Then it was on to the Challenger event in Rimouski.

“I came through the qualifying rounds again, winning two matches, before winning five matches in a row and beating three seeded players including the No1 seed in the finals to win the tournament.”

De Voest took Road to Rio 2016 through the final. “I was down 1-6 in the first set tie-breaker, before winning seven straight points to win the tie-breaker 8-6, and then the second set 6-4 to take the title. The last time I won a singles challenger event was actually in the same event three years earlier in 2010.”

Understandably De Voest is now upbeat after his latest success. “In the past month, I compiled a 25-3 match record, which has been great for my confidence, and most recently my ranking. With the win, I will move up the ranking to around 230 in the world again, which will guarantee my acceptance into the qualifying rounds of the majors.”

He’s now taking a five-day breather in Vancouver for some much-needed rest and recovery before it’s off to Europe. “I’ll be flying off to Poland on Saturday, a week early to prepare with the team for the upcoming Davis Cup tie match against Poland. And then I’m also planning on playing the Soweto Challenger event to be held in SA on 29 April-4 May.