For the past two weeks, living in South Florida allows you a great luxury which is to watch the Jr Tennis Orange Bowl. Each year one gets to watch the best of the best compete in this great international competition.
The scene is sometimes surreal as you get kids with entourages, arriving in teams from all over the world. The qualifying draw is a 256 entry draw which means you have to win 4 matches to enter the 128 main draw. Brutal is a simpler way to describe it.
The kids that win it, have the privilege to have their names alongside of people like: Andy Roddick, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Dominic Thiem, Guillermo Vilas etc. This list alone lets you know how difficult it is to qualify and much more to actually win it.
This year I had the special treat of knowing a young player named Victor Lilov, his tennis credentials are remarkable and impressive, and he just came from losing the semis at Eddie Herr in Bradenton. For the Orange bowl he was seeded #3 in the tournament, he easily advanced to the semis without dropping a set and very few games.
In the semis he needed three sets and 7 match points against him to reach the finals. During those 7 match points he showed us an even temper, a reliance on basic solid fundamentals that at the cusp of pressure don’t fail. His shots in the most pressure situations were as clean as expected from a great talent.
What impressed me the most about Victor, though his tennis is undoubtedly superior to most, were two things, first his calm in tough situations and to see how his strokes did not falter, that was impressive. The second thing is his humility and clear understanding of what tennis his tennis secret is “hard work”.
These two fundamentals, though them seem obvious I find them that they are rare, specially in the younger kids. A well-deserved first place for a well taught Victor by none other than the highly respected Steve Smith. A great display of finesse, control, technique, humility and resilience worthy of a true champion, and this is only the beginning…
Victor Lilov in his own words. https://youtu.be/H1R_eJf2Ego