In the international professional competition tennis players generally, compete at three levels. The lowermost level is the ATP Futures. The second echelon is covered by the ATP Challenger tour. Only after competing in those two circuits, a player can take part in ATP World Tour if at all he has the required points.
Till 2008, the ATP Challenger tour was known as the ATP Challenger series. In 1978, the first challenger events were held in Auckland and Hobart. Since then the events continued to grow in number and by 2008, 178 challenger tournaments were held.
A number of points that a player wins in a challenger tournament are determined in a rather unconventional way. Taking in consideration the amount of prize money that the tournament has to offer and the hospitality provided by the tournament, a player is given points. The minimum amount given by a challenger tournament is $50000 and the maximum prize money can go beyond $220,000. The winner can get 125, 110,100,80 and 90 points depending on the prize money and hospitality of the tournament.
Ranking points in the challenger tournaments help the player in ascending the rankings chart if he performs consistently throughout the season. The highest ranking a player can reach by winning challenger tournaments will be just below 100 as he would have won nearly 550 points.
Most challenger players are ranked between 100 to 500 if they participate in a $35k tournament. In the case of a $150k tournament, players are generally ranked between 50 and 250. Players usually are those who are planning to make their mark in the future. Another category involves players who are injured for a long time and plan to get back into the draw with other pros.
In a grand slam, if a player is ranked in the top 100 and falls early in the tournament, he gets an opportunity to enter any challenger tournament through a wild card.
The 2017 challenger season is headed by Adrian Mannarino and Janko Tipsarevic who have won two titles each.