“I served for the set,” said Fowler.
But Sharapova is a two-time Grand Slam champion. She wriggled free and beat the Houston teenager 7-5. Even so, Fowler had earned his streak that day as a new fellow in the elite top gun program of the famous IMG Bollettieri tennis academy.
“If the pros think you can’t work or play hard,” said the 16-year-old, “they’ll kick you off the field.”
Fowler later beat up rising star Nicole Vaidisova.
To hear Fowler talk about his experience at the Bradenton, Florida venue, Houston’s best junior player is living a dream. Although he goes to class for almost five hours every weekday afternoon, the focus of his life is preparing for a career in tennis that he desires very much.
It must work. Since his arrival last fall, his ITF junior world rank has risen from not to 678th to 124th. He wins tough matches in big tournaments against big competition and learns how to get and stay fit for the tour.
Fowler admits he barely touched his shin a year ago, and it is no coincidence that he suffered a lot of back problems last summer because of his overused hamstrings.
Now, after a stretching program that includes yoga, he lightly touches his toes and the back has not acted at all.
He also hits the weights while spending up to five hours a day either doing conditioning exercises or hitting tennis balls.
“They train us like the pros,” said Fowler. “It’s very organized. It really helps my game. I have a lot more pop on my strokes.”
In this amount he needs everything. He calls his Top Gun group “flawless,” which means that all 15 kids, only four of whom are Americans, can play at a junior big league level. You are under the guidance of David “Red” Aime, Tommy Haas’ longtime trainer. Most of the chances are on the tour.
“I travel a lot and visit a lot of great places,” said Fowler.
He was in Mexico City, where he reached the neighborhood in the Class A Casablanca Jr. Cup and won a tense three-point against a top Mexican junior in front of around 2,000 fans in what he calls the “Davis Cup atmosphere”. He also made quarters at a major event in Costa Rica and at the end of the month he will be traveling to Peru and Bolivia.
Note that these tournaments are all played on clay, which Fowler loves, even if most American players don’t.
“I played a lot on clay when I grew up in Houston,” he said. “I move comfortably on it, and that is the secret.”
Aggies versus Longhorns
The Downtown Club at the Met kicked off its annual Alumni Tennis Challenge on February 8th and 9th by kicking off the weekend celebrations with an opening night between the Texas and Texas A&M teams, which are in the top 11 nationwide .
The Aggies and Longhorns play at 6pm. Graduates from all schools are invited to take part in the alumni tournament, which starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Met tennis director Keith Christman set up the event as a fundraiser to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Houston Tennis Association’s out-school outreach program.
Sponsorships are available in levels of US $ 250, US $ 500 and US $ 1,000 and include places in the alumni raffle.
Christman hopes to make the weekend an annual tradition. Contact the club at 713 652-0700 for more information.
Call to all referees
The Met will also host the Houston Tennis Umpires Association (HTUA) certification school on Jan. 27 for those interested in becoming a referee. The school is free, but attendees must be USTA members. HTUA memberships are $ 20.
A national certification and ITA college school for referees with at least five years’ experience will also take place on January 26th. For more information on both sessions, please contact Nancy Kindergarten at 713 302-1568 or [email protected]
But there won’t be much work on the pitch as the Met, like all other interior designs in the city, will host the massive statewide USPTA tournament.
The new Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club may be a few months away from completion, but some of the courts are playable and well used.
There are clinics for adults every Thursday morning from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and in the evening from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. They offer group lessons and organized play and are free for members. Guests can attend for $ 30.
The children’s clinics are open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. Members can bring a guest for free.
Adults should contact Niklas Kroon at niklas.kroon
@ thegtac.com to sign up and parents can contact Blair DiSesa at blair.disesa
@ thegtac.com to enroll their children.