Blu Baker’s dream of becoming a professional tennis player ‘kicks off’ this week as he heads to South America in search of maiden tour ranking points.
The Florida-based 13-year-old left Portsmouth for the United States two years ago to train under the tuition of acclaimed coach Rene Gomez.
And the man responsible for the daily training and travelling of some of the greatest players in the sport, including Andre Agassi and Monica Seles, has high hopes for the teenage talent.
Dad Kevin Baker, who is head coach at Portsmouth Tennis Academy, is similarly excited about the road ahead for his son.
But he admits the path to potential stardom is not easily trodden.
He said: ‘Blu’s tennis life really kicks off this week when he flies to Ecuador.
‘He will play his first ITF (International Tennis Federation) event at under-18s level, despite the fact he is still only 13.
‘He is now playing for world ranking points.
‘After Ecuador, he will be flying out to Colombia for two further ranking events.
‘Those three events are about experience and going to see what is out there for him.
‘He will be travelling to South America by himself, not with me or TJ (his mum).
‘He is just going with a coach and one other player – it’s a new world for him.’
For rising tennis star Baker, these new challenges are par for the course in his bid to break into the big time.
An impressive debut showing at competitive under-18 level saw the former St John’s College student claim runners-up spot at the prestigious Dropshot Challenge in Naples, Florida.
And Baker senior is preparing to see even less of his son as Blu chases his dreams across the Atlantic.
He said: ‘How things go in those three events (in Ecuador and Colombia) will depend on how the rest of his summer shapes up.
‘Regardless, he will be off travelling somewhere else in September or October to play.
‘He will definitely play at the Eddie Herr International and Orange Bowl Championship in Miami.
‘Blu will be back here on December 23 for two weeks for Christmas but the whole of 2016 he will be in the States.
‘It’s a tough schedule but it’s giving him every chance.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN