Tennis Prose



The Magic Of Eddie Herr

You never know what you may see at the Eddie Herr International junior tournament at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL.

You could walk right by hockey icon Wayne Gretzky and not even know it – he was here a few years ago with his daughter Emma who now plays for SMU.

You could watch a practice set of ATP WTA pros, training for the new season – I’ve seen players like Bouchard, Azarenka, Korda, Stepanek, Cirstea, Collins, Watson, Rublev, etc.

You could see junior matches, main draw or qualies, involving 12s, 14s, 16s or 18s junior players as fiercely competitive and exciting as a Grand Slam match.

You may see and have the chance to chat with legends like Lindsay Davenport, Marcelo Rios, Brian Gottfried, Ivan Lendl, Nathalie Tauziat, Petr Korda, Hans Gildemeister, Johan Kriek.

So far this year during the qualifying rounds to reach the Eddie Herr main draw I’ve seen Davenport on two days (her son Jagger Leach will play main draw), Bobby Reynolds, Lleyton Hewitt’s son Cruz preparing for the 14s, Johan Kriek who has a son and daughter in qualies, Sander Groen who has a 14 year old daughter in 18s qualies (she won two rounds), John Evert, and many striking juniors, most whose names I couldn’t get.

Some I did… Efemerova, the Russian prodigy girl who trains at Mouratoglou is here. Teodor Davidov, the Bulgarian 11 year old with a lefty and right forehand and who also serves both lefty and right trains nearby at Inspiration Academy will play the 12s. Hewitt’s son Cruz is in the 14s, he came here with ten other Aussie juniors, chaperoned by Tennis Australia. There are giant groups of players from Ukraine, Japan, China, Korea.

Every year the IMG Academy changes and grows. This year there are new stadium courts, new red clay courts and a new indoor court complex. I wonder if Miami Open would be better suited to be staged as the Bradenton Open here at IMG?

One of the most exciting tournaments of the year is about to begin today, The Eddie Herr International Junior Tournament.

And each year I wonder… Why isn’t this magnificent event of sensational, spectacular junior tennis televised by ESPN or Tennis Channel?

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