Baker hoping tough call pays off for Blu

Youngster Blu Baker has sacrificed home comforts in order to fulfil his dream of becoming a top tennis player in the future
Youngster Blu Baker has sacrificed home comforts in order to fulfil his dream of becoming a top tennis player in the future
Blu Baker in action this season

Baker on the rise in Florida

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Kevin Baker has revealed the difficulty of temporarily splitting up the family to help son Blu pursue his dreams of a career as a top professional.

The head coach of Portsmouth Tennis Academy felt the 11-year-old’s best hope of making it in the pro ranks was under the guidance of top coach Rene Gomez out in Naples, Florida, rather than working with coaches in this country.

As a result, the youngster has been living in the USA on a full-time basis, along with mother TJ, since March.

There, he’s on court around 30 hours per week and fits his school studies around his blossoming tennis career.

Baker explained: ‘It’s very difficult. My wife is living out there with him and it’s a big, big commitment.

‘There is also a lot of money involved.

‘Blu wants to play pro tennis and, if he is going to make it, I believe he has to be out in Spain or in USA.

‘He went over in March. I went over to visit in May and I saw a huge improvement in him.

‘There is no guarantee at the end of it that he is going to be good enough.

‘But unless you give him the opportunity, you are never going to know.

‘The opportunity does not exist on the same scale over here as it does over there.

‘It’s purely to give him the opportunity to play at the highest level he can.’

Baker struck up a relationship with Gomez during one of his visits to the USA and became disillusioned at the standard of coaching in this country.

So just as new Wimbledon champion Andy Murray did during his formative years – going to Barceline – young talent Blu has moved abroad to further his hopes of making it.

‘We’ve taken more than 50 kids out to Rene Gomez at Evert’s over the past 10 years,’ said Baker.

‘Rene invited us over for a week and he resolved the technical issues that I was having with Blu almost straight away that I couldn’t sort myself.

‘And then Blu started to kick on and Rene said “he has got ability but he needs to be here full-time”.

‘I got very frustrated over here with the system when the kids are young so we decided to do it.

‘When the kids get a bit older, it changes dramatically and there are some world-class coaches.

‘But he’s with a world-class coach in Rene and the environment there is very different and there are 15 or 16 world-class young players there.

‘If he was over here, he is a big fish in a small pond and I don’t think he would be pushed enough.

‘There are so many good players over there, he is a nobody.

‘So knowing he has got to get out on the court and work his socks off every day to keep up is great motivation.’