November 23, 2023

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

No rest for Barcelona champ Alcaraz as he jets to Greece

(Photo: IMG/Twitter)

It would be tough for us mere mortals to even fathom how tuckered out teenager Carlos Alcaraz was, after winning two matches on Sunday and taking the title at home in Barcelona.

But being repped by IMG has commitments attached. And Alcaraz (along with Hubert Hurkacz) had committed to an exhibition match at the Tatoi Club today.

(The promotional blurbs got outdated in a hurry; Alcaraz’s career high at the time was … No. 32).

It’s in the northern part of Athens, and is lauded as “the most exclusive country club in Greece”.

More pertinently, it’s the setting for an IMG Future Stars competition this week.

Getting to them early

The event is – let’s not sugarcoat it – a “showcase” for … children and, for the best, an inducement to sign with IMG.

It’s promoted as such:

“The best 24 boys and 24 girls of the U12 age group will be exclusively invited by IMG scouts to join the “invitation only” tournament, promising spectators some unforgettable moments on the court. The primary goal is to discover and identify the future stars of tennis!”

But still a super-fun experience for the kids, without a doubt.

And apparently it’s really never too young, cautionary tales aside.

IMG signed the elder Alcaraz at … 12. And they had clothing and racquet deals in place at 15 (Alcaraz shortly moved from Lotto to Nike. Those are expiring soon – re-upping is going to cost those companies a fair bit, you would think).

It’s unclear if the “exclusive invitation” to Greece includes travel expenses for all 48 players and whatever entourages they already have. But you would expect so.

It would have been quite a coup to get Stefanos Tsitsipas to take part. But of course, Alcaraz and Hurkacz are IMG clients; Tsitsipas is not.

A few Next-Gen participants

And, even more notably, the next generation of Alcarazes is already on its way as Alcaraz’s younger brother Jaime, who is 10 and a total cutie, is among the participants.

Jaime Alcaraz

(And there are TWO more Alcaraz brothers beyond Jaime – Sergio and Alváro).

Looking into the brief bios of the participants, it’s notable that about as many girls as boys are coached by their parents: 9-of-24 for the boys, and 8-of-24 for the girls.

Of those, only two appear to be moms. The rest are dads.

Among the dad-coached kids is Teodor Davidov, a kid with two forehands that we watched play at the Eddie Herr tournament last November. He also serves with both hands.

Davidov is in the same round-robin pool as Jaime Alcaraz. They play Tuesday morning.

Who else? Lani Chang, the 11-year-old daughter of Michael Chang (who is listed as her coach). Mom is former WTA player Amber Liu.

Here’s Chang hitting with his little girl on the main practice courts at the US Open in 2018.

There also is 11-year-old Alexander Kunitsyn. We can’t say with 100 per cent certainty that he’s the son of longtime ATP Tour player Igor Kunitsyn. But Kunitsyn, per his bio, does have a son named Alexander. If it is his son, he’s not listed as his coach.

There is also one Canadian, 11-year-old Joyce Geng, coached by father Jason.

If the world hasn’t ended by then, we’ll check back at the end of the decade and see where all of them ended up.

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