A year no one could have predicted, 2020 was certainly an exciting one for Topnotch Management. From growing our team to managing three highly successful events and seeing great results from our clients around the world, there was no shortage of highlights in a year full of surprises.
The TNM team
Our team grew by one this year as Joshua Freedman joined the ranks. Based in Ann Arbor, we originally connected with Josh while running the Ann Arbor ATP 80 Challenger event. Throughout the rest of the year, Josh joined us in a business development and legal counsel role, which was a great transition from his background as a lawyer and business owner.
Topnotch Management’s president, Sam Duvall, deservedly made Crain’s Cleveland’s Forty Under 40 list this year. Honorees were chosen by the Crain’s editorial team for being committed to the future of Northeast Ohio and making a difference in their companies and their communities. Congratulations, Sam!
Our trio of events
The 2020 calendar was favorable to us, as Topnotch had a Q1-heavy event schedule. We were able to successfully manage the Ann Arbor ATP Challenger event at the University of Michigan, as well as the second annual edition of our home ATP Challenger event, the Cleveland Open. Both events were well supported and brought some top-class tennis to their local communities.
The most dynamic event was pandemic-related. As the tours shut down and players were looking for matches, Topnotch was able to step up and create the MatchPlay 120 event, the longest running new pro sports event of the pandemic. The event was run in partnership with the team at Genius Sports and live-streamed through the Grand Slam Tennis Tours website. The series delivered over 120 matches between some of the top ATP/WTA players in the world. Once the Tours resumed, the results showed that MatchPlay was a highly capable training ground for players to maintain their match fitness.
Tennis: a weird year, but a good one
2020 put quite a dent in the tennis calendar, but our athletes posted an inspiring set of achievements regardless.
John Isner finished yet another year as the top American men’s player in the game. He reached two ATP semifinals early in the year. At the Australian Open, he hit 85 aces and donated $53,500 to Australian bushfire relief (25% of prize money + $100/ace).
Alison Riske also started and ended on high notes, reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and finishing the season inside the WTA top 30 for the second consecutive year. Speaking of Australia, Tennys Sandgren confirmed that he likes the courts down under. He reached the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second time, falling to Roger Federer in an epic five-set battle.
Caroline Garcia finished the year inside the top 50 for the seventh consecutive year, a remarkable accomplishment of consistency. She ended the year on a strong note, reaching the round of 16 at her home tournament of Roland Garros. Our other Caroline, Caroline Dolehide, had a strong year in doubles. She reached a career-high of No. 30 in the world after she and her doubles partner reached the quarters of the Australian Open, helping set the tone for the rest of her year.
Reilly Opelka finished with a year-end ranking of No. 39. His accolades include the Delray Beach Open title, where he played two matches to beat both Raonic and Nishioka on the same day, playing six sets over four hours and 17 minutes. In addition, he notched two top-10 wins in the shortened season, bringing his record to 6–6 against top-10 players. Notably, one of these wins took him to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
As noted, Yoshihito Nishioka was also a star at the Delray Beach Open. The event was the No. 2 Japanese player’s second career ATP final; all in all, one of the last normal events of the year was an excellent one for Topnotch. Yoshihito cracked into the top 50 in 2020, and will finish the year with his highest ever year-end ranking: No. 56. Nishioka also made the third round of a Slam for the first time this year.
Another major first Slam achievement came from Cameron Norrie, who advanced to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career at the US Open. He notched a remarkable upset win against top-10 player Diego Schwartzman after being down two sets.
Last year’s promising signing Katrina Scott landed a wildcard for the US Open. She won her first Grand Slam main-draw match, then took a set off of Amanda Anisimova in the second round. In off-court news, check out her photoshoot for Racquet x Adidas. Meanwile, another promising 2019 signing, Zachary Svajda was able to make the most of his opportunities and has now reached a career-high end-of-year ranking of ATP No. 766. He recorded solid wins in our MatchPlay 120 series and UTR events, and reached the round of 16 in his first Challenger of the year in Orlando.
We’ll wrap up our 2019 signing recap with this statement: American JJ Wolf had a standout year. He took home two ATP Challenger titles early in the year (in Noumea and closer to home in Columbus). Moreover, he won two rounds at the US Open and his awesome mullet made quite a statement. This saw JJ shoot up in the rankings, finishing the year at a career-high No. 127. Steve Johnson also bagged not one but two early-season Challenger titles, picking up 80 ATP points in Bendigo 2 and 125 at the Indian Wells Challenger event. We’d say this gives him a fair claim to the champion of Indian Wells 2020.
Ekaterina Alexandrova also had a career year. She reached a career high of No. 25 in the world in February. Back-to-back tournament wins in Limoges and Shenzhen led her to a year-end ranking of WTA No. 33. Lauren Davis also recorded a strong year: she finished inside the WTA top 75 after starting off the year by reaching the quarterfinals in Hobart.
The summer wasn’t bad for Topnotch, either: on the back of a semifinal run at the Lexington WTA event that included a win over Serena Williams, Shelby Rogers joined the Elite 8 Club at the US Open. This was the 28-year-old’s second Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Denis Kudla reached two ATP Challenger Tour finals this year, claiming a title in Cary and a runner-up spot in Dallas. In a major victory off the court, Denis married his long-time girlfriend Tyler in October. In other family news, Jérémy Chardy welcomed his first child with his wife Susan: Stone Chardy. Papa Chardy also finished inside the top 100 for the ninth consecutive year. Congratulations to the newlyweds and new parents!
As for new additions, Australian Christopher O’Connell signed on with Topnotch Management this fall. The 26-year-old reached a career-high of No. 111 in the ATP rankings in 2020, and is looking to continue his momentum into the 2021 season. (Fun fact: we got to know him at the Cleveland Open!) Also in the top 150 is Bradley Klahn, who was able to maintain his ranking despite the lack of opportunities to play in many events this year.
Soccer: a year for the rookies
Topnotch’s first foray into the MLS SuperDraft saw us sign Phillip Goodrum (Atlanta United) and Luke Haakenson (Nashville SC). Both enjoyed strong rookie campaigns and will be back with their MLS rosters for 2021 after their first year of development.
We’ve continued lifting players up the league ranks, with Tah Anunga heading from Charleston’s USL team to Nashville SC in the MLS. Plus, we’ve expanded our coaching division with the signing of Carl Craig to Forward Madison of the USL.
Finally, it seems we’re doing well in the west: Brent Kallman and his Minnesota United team recently reached the MLS Western Conference Final, while coach Mark Lowry lead our partner club El Paso Locomotive to the USL Western Conference Final—for the second year in a row.
Congratulations, everyone, and keep up the good work! #BeTopnotch
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