Baker living the American dream

Blu Baker in action this season

Baker on the rise in Florida

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Blu Baker is celebrating the win of his life as he continues his Stateside adventure.

The 11-year-old from Southsea stepped up to face tennis prospects years older than him at the Tennis Performance International event in Florida.

But that didn’t stop the fast-emerging talent taking victory in the under-14 clay-court competition in Fort Myers.

Baker overcame Russian Delvidas Vilys 1-6, 6-1, 10-2 on a champion’s tie-break at the quarter-final stage.

He then turned on the style in the semis as he triumphed over American Reynold Greenlaw 6-3, 6-0.

And Baker maintained his outstanding form in searing heat, taking the title against Greenlaw’s compatriot, Ian Ziegler, in the final in a 7-6, 6-2 win.

Baker’s father, and Portsmouth Tennis Academy director Kevin, believes his son is showing maturity beyond his years on the court.

And he feels the youngster is benefitting hugely after relocating to the world-renowned Gomez Tennis Academy in Florida.

‘For Blu to win an under-14 event on clay and play so well is really positive,’ said Baker.

‘Blu is 11 so he was giving quite a lot away in terms of age.

‘I haven’t seen Blu for a few months because he has been out at Rene Gomez’s tennis academy.

‘The improvement in his game has been huge. The way he’s playing has come a long way and he’s not making as many errors.

‘It was over 100 degrees in the final so he did extremely well.

‘Everything out there is going great for him. To watch him win a under-14 event on clay is his best tournament result in his life.

‘Two weeks previously he lost to a highly-ranked kid 7-6, 6-4 so we knew he was moving on.

‘But to win it was excellent. He’s grown up a lot on the court.’

Blu has had to undergo a big change in lifestyle after moving to Florida from England.

But he has been able to dedicate his life to tennis and is improving his game as a result.

And his father feels he has the right character to take the upheaval in his stride.

Baker said: ‘The environment he’s in means he has very high-quality juniors around him.

‘It’s a fairly small, tight group of players.

‘It’s a performance programme which is high intensity.

‘It’s long days. He starts at 7.30am in the morning, finishes for lunch at 11.30am and is back on court from 1.30pm through to 5pm.

‘He’s doing that every day, with his fitness stuff in there as well. His improvement stands out.

‘He has another seven weeks out there before he returns in July. Then he’s back for two months before returning in September.

‘Then he’ll play events in the latter part of the year.

‘It’s a huge thing to go through. My wife is out there living with Blu and his brother and sister are back here.

‘It’s a lot to deal with, but he’s pretty single-minded.

‘He’s loving it out there, and it’s not difficult to see why when you look at the facilities.

‘In terms of tennis, he’s a nobody in Florida, so he has to work hard at his game or he’ll fall behind.

‘The competition is huge. It’s one of the top places in the world to play.

‘The standard of coaching and competition is on another level.’