Blaise Bicknell shines at Brazil tourney
Blaise Bicknell, one of Jamaica’s most promising young tennis players, has done exceptionally well in the high profile Banana Bowl G1 International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior tournament being held in Criciúma, Brazil. Bicknell, who is ranked at No. 116 in the world by the ITF, reached the quarter- finals of the tournament, which is regarded as ‘the jewel of junior clay court tournaments in South America, where he lost a close match to the No. 1-seeded player, Nicholas Alvarez Varona, from Spain, 7-5, 6-3. Varona is ranked No. 10 in the world by the ITF.
It was a tough but very rewarding week for the 17-year-old Bicknell, who played brilliant tennis to reach the quarters. In his first match on Monday, he beat Japanese player Taiyo Yamanaka 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 in a game of fluctuating fortunes. After a comfortable first set win, he had problems with the heat in the second set and had to receive treatment. He recovered quickly after this, however, and roared back to win the third set.
Next up for him was another Japanese player Shintaro Mochizuiki who is ranked No. 33 in the world by the ITF, and he took him out 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. He continued to shine on Wednesday, and defeated Argentina’s No. 1-ranked player, Santiago de la Fuente, 6-3, 6-2. In Thursday’s quarter- finals, he held his own in the first set, but Varona took control in the second set, and a couple of service breaks by him, gave him the victory.
Bicknell will next be playing in Brazil, and his coach, Mel Spence, said yesterday that he was “thrilled by the progress being made by Blaise”. Spence added: “Blaise is now playing with a lot of confidence, and after working tirelessly for years, he is now playing to his true potential and is on the way to becoming a world-beater.”