IF YOU GO
Alexis Blokhina of Plantation moved from California three years ago to train with renowned coach Nick Saviano at Veltri. set and kind of loosened up,’’ said Blokhina, who’s ranked fifth in the 12s nationally. “I persevered in the second set to get through it by just making one more ball back than her. I tried to get in her head, not in a mean way, but just pump myself up and give myself the best chance to win.’’
Blokhina constantly talks USTA NATIONAL CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIPS Through Sunday The best junior tennis players in America will be competing for prestigious gold balls in the various age groups.The boys’ 18 winner received a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open juniors event.
Boys 14s are at Jimmy Evert Tennis Center and Lauderdale Tennis Club in Fort Lauderdale; Girls 14s are at Veltri Tennis Center in Boca Raton; Girls 12s are at the Polo Club in Boca Raton; Boys 16s and 18s will be mostly at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, but also at Broken Sound Country Club, Boca West Country Club, Woodfield Country Club, Club at Boca Pointe and Seven Bridges Tennis Center.
Free and open to public. to herself on the court with a variety of self-exhortations, like, “Come on!’’ and the Russian version of “Davai, davai!’’ that she seems to chant at the same time as her Russian-born mother, Lyana, does from the gallery.
“I get my athletic genes from my father [Oleg], who played soccer, and my feistiness from my mother,’’ smiled Blokhina, who reached the quarterfinals of the Easter Bowl 12s and has won two Level 2 national 12s events since May.
Also, cheering Blokhina on was her grandmother, Galina Radchenko, and 10-year-old brother Nathan, a rising star in the 12s who would’ve played in the National Clay Courts in Orlando if he wasn’t nursing a sore shoulder.
Blokhina, who turns 13 in a few weeks, could’ve opted to play in the Girls 12 National Clay Courts in Boca Raton this week, but she preferred the challenge of playing up. So far it has paid off as she rolled through the third set with hardly an unforced error, while painting the corners to frustrate Kader, the third-ranked player from Cincinnati who usually plays 16s tournaments.
“During the break before the third set I could tell how excited she was just to go into the third set,’’ said coach Marcus Fluitt, a former ATP pro who works at Saviano’s High Performance Academy. “She has a lot of heart and is a great competitor. She loves the