Challenger Tournament History

Craig Tiley, the University of Illinois’ head men’s tennis coach from 1993 to 2005, had a vision for his program and for the tennis community in central Illinois. One of the pieces of his vision was to bring professional players from around the world to Champaign-Urbana and expose tennis enthusiasts of all ages and ability to the game they love at its highest form. In 1996, Tiley brought this piece of his vision to reality and attracted a low level USTA developmental circuit tournament to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. 

While many doubted Tiley’s vision, he believed that the tournament could not only survive in central Illinois, but grow. Through the years, the tournament’s prize money increased as the popularity among the community grew. In 2005, as the Challenger of Champaign-Urbana was nearing its 10th year, Tiley departed for Australia to become Tennis Australia’s Director of Player Development. In spite of his departure, the tournament has continued its growth, following the path of Tiley’s original vision. The tournament, now known as the JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana, features $50,000 in prize money and provides hospitality, including accommodations, for all players who compete. Furthermore, it is one of the longest running tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit. After Tiley’s departure, Brad Dancer has continued to elevate the level of tennis in Champaign and continued to being talent to the Champaign-Urbana community, with one of Illinois current doubles teams winning the doubles title ion 2014.

Through the years, tennis fans in central Illinois have witnessed many of today’s top stars compete at the Atkins Tennis Center. Most notably, Mardy Fish competed in the Challenger of Champaign-Urbana in 2000 and 2001. Other top players on the ATP circuit today including John Isner, the Bryan Brothers, Kevin Anderson, and more have all traveled to central Illinois to begin their climb to the top of professional tennis. The allure for fans who attend the tournament is identifying who the next world No. 1 will be.


Singles Champions

2016 – Henri Laaksonen

2015 – Henri Laaksonen

2014 – Adrian Mannarino

2013 – Tennys Sandgren

2012 – Tim Smyczek

2011 – Alex Kuznetsov

2010 – Alex Bogomolov, Jr.

2009 – Michael Russell

2008 – Kevin Anderson

2007 – Jesse Levine

2006 – Amer Delic

2005 – Danai Udomchoke

2004 – Justin Gimelstob

2003 – Paul Goldstein

2002 – Robby Ginepri

2001 – Ivo Karlovic

2000 – Jeff Salzenstein

1999 – Frederic Niemeyer

1998 – Daniel Nestor

1997 – Andrew Richardson

1996 – Justin Gimelstob


Doubles Champions

2016 – A. Krajicek / T. Sandgren

2015 – D. O’Hare / J. Salisbury

2014 – R. Guignon / T. Kopinski

2013 – E. Corrie / D. Smethurst

2012 – A. Krajicek / D. Bitton

2011 – R. De Voest / I. Van Der Merwe

2010 – R. Klaasen / I. van der Merwe

2009 – B. Battistone / D. Battistone

2008 – R. Ram / B. Reynolds

2007 – H. Levy / S. Warburg

2006 – R. deVoest / R. Ram

2005 – A. Fisher / T. Phillips

2004 – B. Baker / R. Ram

2003 – T. Parrott / B. Soares

2002 – G. Trifu / G. Weiner

2001 – M. Fish / J. Morrison

2000 – T. Dent / M. Fish

1999 – P. Goldstein / J. Thomas

1998 – J. Palmer / J. Stark

1997 – M. Sell / K. Ullyett