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September 24, 2023

Nordic Naturals Challenger returns to Aptos

The $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger presented by Santa Cruz County Bank returns today at the Seascape Sports Club in Aptos.

Part of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challenger Tour, the Nordic Naturals Challenger begins today with U.S. qualifying rounds while the main draw matches kick off on Monday.

John Millman, a 28-year-old Australian who’s ranked No. 169 in the world, won the title in 2015 and is back in this year’s stacked field.

Malek Jaziri, Jordan Thompson, Ruben Bemelmans and Henri Laaksonen headline the main draw. All four are ranked within the top 100 players in the world.

Jaziri holds the highest ATP ranking in the main draw, coming in at No. 70. Thompson is No. 80, Bemelmans is No. 96 and Laaksonen is four spots behind him at No. 100.

Jaziri, a 33-year-old from Tunisia, has been to Aptos several times over, making his last appearance in 2015. He advanced to the quarterfinal round during that tournament.

Thompson, a 23-year-old from Australia, is fresh off a Challenger finals appearance at Binghamton and will be making his debut on the courts in Aptos.

Like Jaziri, Bemelmans has experience playing in the Central Coast. The 29-year-old Belgian has twice played in Aptos, making back-to-back appearances in 2013 and 2014.

Laaksonen, a 25-year-old from Switzerland, will be making his debut at Seascape.

Bjorn Fratangelo, a 24-year-old American, is back after advancing to the semifinals each of the last two years and Mikhail Kukushkin, a 29-year-old from Kazakhstan, is also making a return to Aptos. Kukushkin, who is No. 102 in the world, played for the championship in 2014.


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