Maybe if 4-foot-8 Tucson tennis player Gregory Anderson was a bit more imposing, he might have had more success with the missiles that Zandrix Acob sent his way Wednesday morning.
“He was bigger and stronger than me,” said Anderson, 12, who lost 6-1, 6-0 in the annual Copper Bowl junior national tournament 12-and-under division finals at El Conquistador’s center court.
“He’s feeling like he got his butt kicked pretty good, which he did,” said his coach, Joey Blake, a playing contemporary of Andre Agassi and the owner and director of Scottsdale’s Topnotch Tennis academy.
“But I’ve never known a pro in any sport who hasn’t. The bigger kid won. He muscled his way around the court and had the strokes to back it up.
“That being said, Gregory is developing his game and he’ll be OK. I have no problems about this getting him down for long. As I told his father (Jon Anderson), I saw (Pete) Sampras lose as a 12-year-old, and now who’s holding all the trophies?”
Even though Acob, from Hilo, Hawaii, had the match won from practically the first game, Anderson followed to a tee his coach’s order of technique before triumph.
And although the score doesn’t show it, Anderson held his own in the firestorm of volleys.
“I used a heavy topspin and tried to play the corners,” Anderson said. “It’s what I’ve been working on. It didn’t work today.”
Work ethic is a strength of Anderson. In his third year of tennis, the game takes up half of his time on weekdays.
Blake compares him to a youthful Agassi or Jennifer Capriati and said on his Web site that in 33 years of coaching, “Gregory is by far the best talent I’ve worked with in all my years. They developed their games for the future and didn’t always win along the way.”
After Wednesday’s match, Blake said, “Tucson has a very good one on its hands. I don’t say that about many kids. The people here should see it.”