CASTLEKNOCK’S James McGee, Irish tennis’s number 1, had a week to remember as he finished runner-up in the $50,000 (€47,000) Challenger event in San Luis Potosi, Mexico last week.
Although McGee missed out on the title, it was an event full of positives as he secured two top 100 victories, beating Damir Dzhumur and Paolo Lorenzi, to rise up the rankings to a new career high of 170.
Speaking about the event, the Dublin 15 man said: “My best match was against the number two seed and world number 87 Lorenzi.
“Paolo is well respected on the tour for his work ethic, toughness and consistency so I knew I needed a good performance to win.
“It was a huge buzz to come through it and I was very grateful to be part of such an exciting match.
“I play tennis for matches like those, where other people are involved and there is genuine excitement for the tennis being played.”
To prepare for the event, McGee and his coach, Nick Cavaday, had to fly in early from Miami’s ATP University, where they stayed with 23 other players from the ATP University, to acclimatise to the conditions and the altitude.
As McGee put it: “1,850m above sea level with pressure-less tennis balls requires a bit of extra time to get used to!”
The conditions are sure to have been a lot different to those McGee is used to in Dublin but he got the feel of the ball quickly enough.
He started the tournament with an impressive victory over world number 93 Dzhumur, defeating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3 followed by a hard fought win over Guilherme Clezar 6-3, 2-6, 7-6.
McGee sailed through the quarter finals against Andres Molteni beating him in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 to reach the semi finals.
After two hours and 40 minutes in the excruciating Mexican sun and a very vocal crowd, McGee overcame Lorenzi to win 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to reach the final.
As the final approached quickly after the semi finals, McGee did not get enough recovery time and, unfortunately, his opponent Pella came out of the blocks stronger.
It stayed that way as McGee could not get any momentum and lost out to what he called as “the better player of the day”.
Even with the disappointment of finishing runner-up, McGee is sure to push on after reaching a career high world ranking in his next tournament the $100,000 Challenger event in Sarasota.