Future remains bright for Blu

Blu Baker
Blu Baker
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Blu Baker in action this season

Baker on the rise in Florida

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Blu Baker will be out to continue his vast improvement in 2014 after making important progress towards the end of last year.

The 12-year-old rising tennis star from Portsmouth attends the Gomez Tennis Academy in Florida, USA.

There he made his way through arduous qualification campaigns to play in two high-profile tournaments in the States.

Baker qualified for the Eddie Herr International and the Orange Bowl Championships.

And although he was defeated in the first round on both occasions, making it into the main draw was a feat in itself.

‘I think 16 players made it through from 258 in the qualifying events so it was a good achievement,’ said father Kevin, who is head coach at Portsmouth Tennis Academy.

‘They are probably two of the biggest junior events in world tennis.

‘He set out an ambition that he wanted to play in the main draw of both those events.

‘He knew he would have to go through qualifying to do that.

‘He was disappointed to lose in the first round but, emotionally, I think he was spent.

‘The three matches in the previous three days had taken their toll.’

Baker senior saw the development in his son’s game on a recent visit and believes he is now seeing the benefits of the decision to move to USA to pursue a career in the sport.

The youngster has played in exactly 200 tournaments, with 768 wins from 908 competitive singles matches.

He also has 89 tournament wins to his name and has been runner-up in 37 events.

‘I was out there for Eddie Herr and the improvements in his game have been huge,’ said Baker.

‘I couldn’t believe how much he has moved on – he has got a much better vision of how to play the game now.

‘He is very aggressive but he has become more consistent with it.

‘And he’s grown up a lot, living in that disciplined environment.

‘You can see it on court and I expect him to kick on again but I’ve seen a real difference.

‘He is even more enthusiastic about the game. He is starting to look at professionals and starting to realise that he could end up going down that road himself.

‘He just wants to be a player. Whether it’s football, tennis or whatever, I think you know pretty quickly whether a kid is cut out for it.

‘And I think he is cut out for it.

‘If he’s given the opportunity and time to develop, he can play at a high level.’

While there is a huge step-up in standard from the UK, the young talent is expected to continue his progress this year, before returning to play some big events back home in the summer.

And Baker is pleased with the long-term approach that coach Rene Gomez has taken in nurturing his son’s talents.

He said: ‘In Florida, Blu is ranked at 58 in the under-14s, which tells you the level over there.

‘But Rene is looking at using the first six months of the year to build the base.

‘He talks about building the base of the player all the time so everything becomes technically more solid.

‘He was delighted that he qualified for both events but he always says it’s not a race. It’s about building a player for the long run.’