BLU BAKER is continuing to thrive in the Florida heat – after recording the latest of many impressive victories Stateside.
The 12-year-old Southsea starlet dropped only four games on his way to the final of the prestigious Tropical Super Series, held in Naples, near Miami.
Playing against teenage opponents at under-14 level, prodigious talent Blu saw off number-one seed Michael Mendez 6-1, 6-1 in the semi-final before winning an entertaining final in a third-set tie-break against Michael Moll (6-2, 3-6, 10-8).
The youngster has been living the American dream, pursuing professional tennis – with the support of his mother TJ – since March, under the guidance of coach Rene Gomez.
There, he’s on court around 30 hours per week and fits his school studies around his blossoming tennis career.
Blu’s father and head coach of the Portsmouth Tennis Academy, Kevin, has already seen huge improvements in his son’s game on various visits to the States and is hoping for many more trophies along the way.
He revealed: ‘Blu’s got about a 74-per-cent win–lose ratio since he’s been out in the States.
‘He’s now playing at under-14 level so he’s actually competing against older players and winning.
‘He was back in the UK for the summer and won four competitions while he was over here.
‘Then straight away his first competition back in the States he won, so he is coming on leaps and bounds.
‘He beat the number-one seed in the semis and only just won 10-8 in a tie break in the final so it was a tough victory for him.’
It is proving that the tough decision for the Baker family, currently separated by the Atlantic, has paid off in Blu’s development.
The dedicated youngster is now hard at training – preparing for the Eddie Herr tournament at Bradenton, Florida, next month.
Baker’s season will then culminate in one of junior tennis’ most high-profile events – the Orange Bowl Junior Championships in December.
– TIM BIRKBECK