Blaise Bicknell makes history
Twelve-year-old Blaise Bicknell created history when he became the first Jamaican junior tennis player to reach the semi-final of the Eddie Herr Junior Tennis Tournament, ranked as the second-highest International Tennis Federation Tournament (ITF) for juniors in the world.
"It was a really hard tournament, but I surprised myself by reaching the semis," said Bicknell. "These players are very good, but the tournaments I have played earlier this year have really prepared me well."
In the round of 64 in the 12-and-under age group, Bicknell defeated the United States' Graham Hadesman 6-1, 6-0, to advance to the round of 32, where he defeated Turkish No.1 player Kemal Karagovoglub 6-4, 6-2.
In the round of 16, Blaise fought bravely against a much stronger player, Peetu Pohjola, the Finnish No.1 junior player, and won 7-6, 3-0, when his opponent forfeited the match.
In his quarterfinal match-up that lasted for nearly four hours, he defeated the tournament's No.14 seed and top Korean player, Minjong Park, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4.
Then on Saturday, his journey in the tournament came to an end in the semi-final, where he lost 6-1, 6-1 to a much bigger and stronger Adam Neff of the United States.
Neff is ranked No.2 in the world and No.1 in the USA.
"I would like to thank my parents and coaches, who have helped to develop my career," a very elated Bicknell said.
The Jamaican's coach, Mel Spence, said Bicknell has shown tremendous improvement.
"He has improved tremendously, listens well, is very competitive, trains non-stop and is very focused. I know he will win one of these high-level tournaments in the future," predicted Spence.
"I expect him to compete just as well in his next tournament next week at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida," the coach added.