By Randy Walker
VERO BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Edmund gave the nearly 300 fans watching Sunday’s singles final of the $10,000 SorensenRealEstate.com USTA Futures of Vero Beach a glimpse of what the next generation of British may look like.
The 18-year-old won his second career singles title on the entry-level “Futures” tier of pro tennis with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Carsten Ball of Australia at The Boulevard Club in this central Florida coastal town.
Ball, a veteran professional who lost to Sam Querrey in the final of the ATP tour event in Los Angeles in 2010, was hobbled by a right knee injury in the final, causing him to default the doubles final, but it didn’t take away from the solid play all week from Edmund. The young, fair-skinned Brit did not lose a set in his five singles matches and should sneak into a new career high ATP ranking inside the top 500 with his singles victory.
“I’ve played well all week and in a lot of different conditions each day,” said Edmund. “It was windy one day, wet another, hot and dry another. I lost early in the last two tournaments, so I had eight or nine days off where I just had to get my head down and train. Training is tough sometimes but when you have days like this, it’s all worth it.”
While British players will usually be better fast court players, having grown up on fast indoor courts or grass, Edmund said he prefers the clay and will next set his sights on winning the French Open juniors in four weeks time.
“I really like clay a lot,” he said. “I’ve played on it a lot. As I have got older, I started to understand the court. It benefits my game being able to hit high balls, spin, kicking it up off the court, angles. Your shots get rewarded whatever shot you hit. I’ve got one more (clay court tournament) next week and then it’s the French Open. Being a Grand Slam on clay, I’d like to win the junior event.”
When asked if he felt he could win the French Open junior boys’ title, Edmund replied, “I’d like to think so. I have to focus on one match at a time. I’m feeling good. It’s about four weeks before the French so hopefully I can keep the ball rolling.”
Edmund was born in South Africa and moved to Britain when he was three and did not start playing tennis until he was 10. He recalled his first experience on clay being at about age 11, but it wasn’t until he played in many European tournaments in the 14-and-unders where he received extended exposure on the surface.
“It’s all about learning on this stuff,” he said of playing on clay. “You got to have an open mind and be patient and if it you are not willing to learn how good you are, you are going to get found out.”
During his semifinal and final matches in Vero Beach, Edmund was under the careful eye of former US Open singles finalist Greg Rusedski, who is working with Edmund for two events as part of his role as a coach with Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association and in the absence of Edmund’s full-time coach Colin Beecher. Rusedski shouted words of encouragement from behind The Boulevard’s Stadium Court, wrote notes in a paper binder and even took photos of Edmund during the post-match presentation from his mobile phone.
“He’s got a good attitude,” said Rusedski of Edmund. “He works hard. He’s got all the ingredients, so his future looks very bright.”