21-year old Canadian Steven Diez is our featured male player for the month of October. The young Canadian came into the month having already contested four singles finals on the ITF Pro Circuit during the year and in this month alone he would nearly double that figure.
The month began in a low key fashion as Diez, seeded third, crashed out of a tournament in Sabadell, Spain in the second round of the singles event and in the opening round of the doubles with partner Bruno Mardones.
Following his elimination in Spain, Diez moved on to Algeria for three back-to-back tournaments as the number one seed in singles play.
Looking to regain his confidence after the disappointment in Spain, his first tournament took place in Annaba.
A 62 64 scoreline saw him get off to a winning start and in round two he dropped just the one game in a 61 60 defeat of Frenchman Yanais Laurent.
The following two rounds were almost carbon copies of the previous rounds, first a 62 64 win carried him into the semifinal and a final spot was achieved when fourth seeded Alexander Slabinsky from Great Britain retired from their match with Diez leading 61 4-0.
The semifinals had seen all four seeded players in action and the title match was a clash between the top two seeded players as Diez faced the number one seed Gerald Melzer of Austria.
A first title win since a late May triumph in Poland was secured in a straight sets win, 62 63, as Diez emerged from the week without loss of a set.
A better showing also came in the doubles event. Seeded third with Marc Vervoort from the Netherlands a semifinal finish was achieved with the pair losing to the top seeds and eventual champions.
The same venue was used for the second of this month’s three Algerian tournaments and success was to come Diez’s way in both singles and doubles this week.
Straight sets wins continued from the previous week as Diez posted wins of 61 62 and 61 63 to reach the quarterfinal and a match with sixth seed Sam Barry from Ireland. Another comfortable win ensued, this time 63 62, to set up an interesting semifinal meeting with his doubles partner for the week, Spain’s Marc Giner.
Giner, seeded three, put up a tough fight but ultimately was unable to stop the progress of Diez who prevailed with a tight 64 64 win.
The day before the singles final took place, Diez and Giner again took to the court, this time to contest the doubles final. Unseeded the pair were in great shape having eliminated the third and first seeds in the previous two rounds.
A 64 62 win brought the pair their first title together and this was Diez’s first doubles title on the ITF Pro Circuit since his triumph in Spain, almost one year to the day, in 2011.
With the doubles title won, Diez wrapped up a second career tournament double win, matching his April 2011 achievement in Brazil, by also claiming the singles title, although not before dropping his first set in singles play since the start of the month.
Opposing Diez in the final was his British opponent from the previous week, Slabinsky. In their last encounter Slabinsky only managed to take one game from the eleven played before retiring from the match, this time though he won a close first set 64. Diez then reversed this scoreline to level the match.
The deciding set was a lot more one sided and Diez swept to victory over his fifth seeded opponent dropping just one game to wrap up a 46 64 61 win. This was the second time in his career that he had won back-to-back singles titles on the ITF Pro Circuit.
Diez saw the month out with a third Algerian tournament, this one took place in Alger and like the others was on a clay court, Diez’s favoured surface.
Here, playing in the singles event only, Diez enjoyed a quick route into the quarterfinal. A first round 62 62 win was followed by a walkover victory when his second round opponent, Ronald Slobodchikov, whom he had defeated in the same round the previous week, was not able to start their match.
On court action resumed for Diez in the quarterfinal where he faced Goncalo Loureiro; a Portuguese qualifier. With the loss of four games, Diez moved into the semifinal.
From here on in it would get a bit tougher for Diez. Facing third seeded Alexander Lazov he took the first set 62 but his Bulgarian opponent hit back to take the second set 63. Diez had won in all the month’s previous matches where he had taken the first set and this record was to continue as a close 75 third set win took him into the final.
A third consecutive singles title looked to be coming his way in quick fashion when he raced through the opening set of the final, losing just one game, against Italy’s Francesco Picco. The second set was much more closely contested and for the second match running Diez was pegged back as Picco won the set 64.
Diez was though to see the month out on a high and a 62 final set win brought him a hat-trick of singles titles in successive tournaments for the first time in his ITF Pro Circuit career.
The ranking points earned during this month would be enough to see Diez rise to a new career high ATP singles ranking of 222 when the rankings of 5 November were released.
Diez has now competed in seven singles finals on the ITF Pro Circuit in 2012 winning the title on five occasions.
Now pushing for a place in the Top 200, this young Canadian could well be one to watch on the ITF Pro Circuit in 2013.