Baker rises to Challenge

Blu Baker   Picture: Paul Jacobs
Blu Baker Picture: Paul Jacobs
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BLU BAKER’s ambition of becoming a professional tennis player continues at a pace, following an impressive maiden under-18 tournament showing – at the age of 13.

The prodigious talent, who left Portsmouth two years ago to pursue his dream career Stateside at the prestigious Gomez Tennis Academy, claimed runner-up spot in the Dropshot Challenge in Naples, Florida.

Playing against competitors up to five years older than him, Baker – recently ranked number two in Britain for his age category – showed his class to make it through to the final, where he came unstuck against older opponent Jan Magnus Johnson 6-0, 6-1.

That follows victory in the Colonial Challenge at under-16 level, held in Plantation.

For father Kevin, head coach of Portsmouth Tennis Academy, it was another big step in the right direction.

And he has backed his son to continue to improve under the tuition of coach Rene Gomez, who has trained tennis legends Andre Agassi and Anna Kournikova.

Baker Snr said: ‘Blu was beaten in the final but he was playing at under-18 level, which is a big thing for him.

‘It has been a tough year for him because he has grown so much.

‘He is 5’10” now but this time last year he was about 5’4” – he has grown six inches in a year.

‘He has not competed anywhere near as much he would have wanted.

‘But coach Rene is keen for him to have a quieter time on the competition front and instead develop his game.

‘Developing technically and keeping him focused on doing the right things has been the priority.’

And Baker Snr believes the gruelling schedule his son is undertaking in his quest to make it as a professional will reap its rewards in the long term.

He added: ‘The conditions he is playing in day in, day out, are fairly brutal.

‘Sunday is a rest day but apart from that he is training every day for seven hours.

‘But that is how you develop mental strength – through working extremely hard and getting through it.

‘And he just wants to play.’