The ATP recently posted an article to their website that listed several "Rising Stars" on tour, players who are expected to have a future on the tennis circuit following varying degrees of success in 2011.
Among the players listed as "Rising Stars" are Milos Raonic and Alexandr Dolgopolov, two players who made their names known to most tennis fans in 2011 (although they both hinted at making breakthroughs in the latter half of 2010, in my opinion).
Other players mentioned as "Rising Stars" in the ATP article, an article that does not credit a specific author, include: Alex Bogomolov Jr., Bernard Tomic, Donald Young, Grigor Dimitrov, Ryan Harrison and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
Those names would all make my list of "Rising Stars" on tour at the moment with the exception of Alex Bogomolov Jr. It's not that the Russian didn't have a strong 2011 that he deserves credit for, but I wouldn't mention a 28-year-old in a "Rising Stars" article when everyone else mentioned is 23 years of age or younger.
"Rising" in the rankings is definitely part of being a rising star but being young is another part, in my opinion, and 28 years old is not young in tennis—not by a long-shot.
One player that was overlooked by the ATP article and is being overlooked quite broadly is Javier Marti of Spain. The reason that Marti is not on many people's radar at the moment is because he is only ranked 184th in the world.
However since Marti started 2011 as the 335th ranked player in the world and since he is still just 19 years old, he's clearly a rising star on tour in my mind.
The only players younger than Marti in the above list are Bernard Tomic and Ryan Harrison, two players who I think will be phenoms on tour. Harrison considers grass his favorite surface, while Tomic turned in his most noteworthy career result on that surface as well, as he made the quarters of Wimbledon 2011.
But Marti could be the best clay-courter of all the "Rising Stars". He spent most of 2011 on both the futures circuit and the challengers circuit. Of all the events he entered in 2011, a whopping 30 of them were on clay. He picked up his share of titles in those events.
Marti also won his section at the French Open qualifying tournament with a clinching victory over Ryan Harrison, a straight sets win that had the young American steamed—he concluded the match by throwing his racket into a tree.
Marti doesn't have a picture up on his homepage with the ATP yet, something that will probably change in 2012.
I don't expect him to be a phenom although he has plenty of time to prove himself still. But I do think he is more of a rising star than the 28 year old Bogomolov, the 22 year old Young and the 21 year old Stebe, a player who is only ranked 81st.
Marti should be graduating from the futures events and challengers events in 2012. That should be accompanied by a rise into the top 100 that will earn him more broad recognition as one of the game's "Rising Stars".
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