Bicknell draws strength from latest Florida triumph
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
National junior representative Blaise Bicknell created quite a stir in the United States on Monday, when he defeated top-ranked Robert Hammond 6-3, 6-0 to capture the Under-12 Orange County Fall Sectional competition at Lake Cane Tennis Centre in Orlando, Florida.
The 10-year-old, who is ranked 18th in Florida and fifth overall in the tournament, was the youngest player at the championships.
Bicknell was very impressive en route to the final as he blazed through the full 32 draw, which consisted of only the top 32 players in the US.
Based on the number of points Bicknell is set to garner for his tournament victory, it is expected that he will break into Florida's top 10.
He breezed throught his first-round game with a comfortable 6-0, 6-1 victory over Myles Decoste, then returned to record a 6-1 6-0 win over Daniel Labrador to secure his place in the quarter-finals.
Bicknell later registered a hard-fought come-from-behind 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over second-seeded 12-year-old Michael Heller, to book his place semi-final.
The young Jamaican, who is coached by Mel Spence, Rayne Russell and Damion Johnson, showed a lot of guts and determination on his way to recording a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win against third-ranked Sebastian Korda to reach the final of the tournament.
In an interview following his return to the island on Tuesday, Bicknell said he was particularly pleased with his win due to the age disparity and quality in the field.
"I am very happy because I played against some of the best players in the US, players who are older than me and I was able to beat them,"he said.
"I thought I played very smart tennis throughout the tournament and I stuck to my game plan, and so I am just very happy that I have won," Bicknell continued.
He added: "This will give me a lot more confidence and motivation and so I am just going continue to work hard on improving my game and to be the best."
Bicknell, who is a student at Hillel Academy, hopes to eventually become the number-one player in the world and emulate his idol, Roger Federer.
Bicknell currently plays most of his tennis in Florida because the International Tennis Federation does not allow juniors to play international tournaments in the Caribbean until they reach age 11.