July 10, 2020

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Whatever happened to … Jan Silva?

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As we were going through the 2008 Roland Garros archives, we came across this photo of six-year-old Jan Silva.

Back in 2008, Silva was the toast of the “tennis prodigy – can’t miss – young phenom” crowd.

He came to the French Open (seen here being teased by his sister). And basically looked like a normal little kid despite all the premature hype.

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Except … on this day, he was even signing autographs once French super-coach Patrick Mouratoglou appeared on the scene. It was … something to see.

In addition to the precociousness, what drew attention, of course, was the Federeresque one-handed backhand.

The previous year, Silva was already working with starmaker Mouratoglou, with the entire family having relocated to France (and the parents having been given jobs).

There was SO much attention. He even made the Today Show.

The headlines were lit.

Here he is with a youthful Mouratoglou, who opened his academy to the Silva family in exchange for … a chunk of his future earnings.

And, being Mouratoglou, for all the resulting PR (not judging).

Here is Silva a few years later, aged about 10.

He even had his own website, early on. But by 2009 the domain name was up for grabs.

Where is Jan Silva now?

There are plenty of stories of kids who got SO much attention when they were really young, who didn’t end up being anything close to what people hoped, planned for them to be.

Silva is one of those kids. But unlike some, he’s still playing tennis. He would be 18 now, and scheduled to graduate from high school this spring.

There isn’t a sniff of him on the ITF website, so he hasn’t played any ITF-level junior events.

He’s now in Irvine, Calif., and playing junior events in that area as well as some adult NTRP tournaments.

The French adventure didn’t appear to have lasted long. From 2009-2011, it appears he was back living in Northern California. After that, in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area for a few years. Then, back to the Sacremento area until about a year ago, when it appears he relocated to Southern California.

It’s also possible that at some point, he returned to his mother’s native Finland.

According to this prep site, here’s Jan Silva now.

The platinum blonde hair is long gone!

But it looks like he grew to 6-foot-2.

The tennis stats don’t seem all that impressive. But the kid also played varsity basketball.

We searched to see if he was committed to playing college tennis anywhere, but came up empty. He is considered a three-star (out of five) recruit by the Tennis Recruiting Network, which means the schools won’t be fighting for his attention. His UTR rating is a 10.

On the plus side, there don’t appear to have been any horror stories attached. And he continues to play – even if it wasn’t at the level everyone around him took for granted.

In the “precocious phenom” business, that’s a victory.