BAYSHORE GARDENS – Soccer. Softball. Sewing. Stamp collecting.
The players making up the boys 14 division of the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships probably wished Miomir Kecmanovic could have chosen any hobby other than tennis.
But when he was a 6-year-old growing up in Serbia, Kecmanovic decided to pick up a racket.
Sunday morning on the campus of IMG Academy, he picked up one of the silver trophies awarded to each division’s champion after beating Patrick Kypson 6-2, 6-1 in the finals of the boys 14s.
The top seed, Kecmanovic breezed through the tournament – Sunday’s match with Kypson lasted 63 minutes, the first time he wasn’t able to dispatch an opponent in less than an hour – without dropping a set. He also lost a total of 14 games.
“I started practicing here two months ago,” Kecmanovic said, “and I’ve really improved, and I think I did a good tournament.” Not bad for a guy whose decision to play tennis amounted to little more than a whim.
“I didn’t know what to do. I was little,” Kecmanovic said. “Why not try it? And I started liking it. At the start, they saw I had talent, so I decided to continue.
“I never thought that this would happen.”
IMG personnel approached Kecmanovic in Moscow after he competed in a tournament. Safe to say it’s been a pretty good match.
“He doesn’t show his opponents any weaknesses where they can attack, and he doesn’t self-destruct,” said IMG tennis coach Chip Brooks, who has been at the academy since its inception in 1978. “At this age, that’s important, because usually, there’s a weakness – a movement, a forehand, a backhand – that they can attack or at least hit toHis serve is solid, his returns are very good and off both sides, forehand and backhand, he hits a very heavy ball.”
Kypson, who hails from Greenville, N.C., was a 16th seed, knocked off the bracket’s second seed (Noak Makarome) in the round of 16, the sixth seed (Alen Avidzba) in the quarterfinals and a 12th seed (Rudolf Molleker) in the semifinals. But he couldn’t keep the upset streak going against Kecmanovic, who overtook Kypson in a dominant second set. “I was a little tight for the first set,” Kecmanovic said. “In the second, I started relaxing, and it was better.”
And he stayed composed, too. Aside from some occasional self-muttering and flashing an angry shrug, Kecmanovic, who turned 14 in August, didn’t show much emotion on the court. Even after recording the clinching point, he smiled and pumped his fist a few times before shaking hands with Kypson over the net.
“He might show banging a racket here and there, but he doesn’t give you much,” Brooks said. You’ll see him get upset after a point, but he catches his composure, gets it out and starts competing.”
Kecmanovic never envisioned such success when he started playing tennis roughly eight years ago in Serbia. Brooks, for one, believes this could be just the beginning.
“Mentally, he’s a pit bull,” he said.