Photo: Corinne DubreuilAndrew Harris (AUS)
It’s an all in a tennis family story for 17-year-old Australian Andrew Harris, the sixth seed in the Australian Open junior boys’ competition that got underway on Sunday.
Harris, who grew up in close proximity to Melbourne Park, has tennis coursing through his blood. His mom is the former Anne Minter, who along with her sister, Liz, were players on the WTA Tour. Dad, Graeme, just so happened to be mom’s coach during her playing days.
Minter won four titles on tour -- 1987 Taipei and Singapore, 1988 San Juan, and 1989 Taipei. Her best Grand Slam result was here at home when she reached the 1988 Australian Open quarterfinals.
Dad has moved on to be a manufacturer of sports clothes, but molded Harris’ early game. Older sister, Caterina, is at university, and younger sister, Samantha, is also pursuing tennis.
After orchestrating a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 first round win over Filip Veger of Croatia on a seriously hot and humid day, Harris chatted about his tennis roots.
“Mum was a former professional,” Harris said. “She sort of keeps things quiet and she doesn’t really talk about her career. Occasionally, she’ll bring up a match she played here and there.”
Harris hasn’t branched out to play the other Grand Slam junior events yet because his ranking hadn’t previously met the standards. But his 2011 results, which included winning the Grade B2 Air Pacific Oceania Closed Junior Championships and three final showings at other international junior competition, has him comfortably at a current combined ranking of No. 7.
“Late last year, the second half of the year, I got my ranking up so I should play at all the Grand Slams this year,” said a delighted Harris.
Harris is in his 12th year of school and this is his second year of doing online classes instead of going to school. He also plans on attending university via an online program where he’s likely to study something related to economics.
Starting in February, Harris will pull up his Melbourne stakes and got to train at the Australia Institute of Sport in Canberra.
“It’s my first time living away from home,” Harris said. “I think will be good. I’ve gone to Europe for two or three months at a time and I liked that so I think it will be fine.”
Harris raced to a 4-0 lead in the opening set, but Veger rebounded in the second set. Although Harris went ahead 2-0 in the second set, he surrendered his serve in the fourth and sixth games, which set up Veger to even the score at one set apiece.
The Australian showed some gumption, however, in the third set. He recouped the service break he suffered in the fifth game, to break serve in the sixth and 10th game for the win.
“It was tough conditions out there,” Harris said. “I came into the match a bit nervous and I’m sure he did too. You know, the home crowd, the expectations.
“I came out playing well and got on top of him pretty early. I competed very well. We both struggled in the third set and I was down a break and I came back very well. I competed very well and just really dug deep. In the third set I got the match back on my terms.”
Harris will face South African Wayne Montgomery in the second round. Montgomery, playing in his first Australian Open Junior Championships earned his second round spot with a 6-7(5) 7-5 6-1 win over Bar Tzuf Botzer of Israel.
Third seed Liam Broady of Great Britain also posted a first round win on Sunday, ousting Matteo Donati of Italy 7-5, 6-3.
Broady, 17, had a big Wimbledon last year when he reached the final, losing to Luke Saville of Australia. He went into that Wimbledon having scored the AEGON Junior International - Roehampton title the week before heading to the All England Club.
“Obviously, it was one of the best moments of my life,” Broady said of Wimbledon. “I feel more at home there than I feel anywhere.”
Broady went up 3-1 in the opening set against Donati, but immediately handed back the service break in the fifth game. He managed to grab a hold of the set when he broke Donati’s serve in the 12th game.
Broady also went ahead in the second set, taking a 2-0 lead, but dropped his serve in the next game. But he scored the final service break in the fourth game and went on to win the match.
“It was a little bit nervy to start with because it was only the second match of the year,” Broady said. “I’m not as match ready as usual. It’s nice to get the win so I’m happy.”
Broady takes on Robin Stanek of the Czech Republic in the second round. Stanek took care of Australian wildcard recipient Jordan Thompson with a 7-5, 6-0 win.
In the girls’ competition, top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia moved ahead to the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Naiktha Bains of Australia.
Similar to Broady, the 16-year-old Khromacheva was a Wimbledon finalist last year. She was crushed when she lost to 15-year-old Ashleigh Barty of Australia in that final and fought back tears after the match.
But with months in-between Wimbledon, Khromacheva looks at the tournament as a successful stepping stone to her junior career. Now of course the aim is to go one match win further.
“I want to go back to Wimbledon and make it one match better,” Khromacheva said. “My goal is to win a junior Grand Slam once, maybe then I’ll stop juniors. But I really want to win one. If I win here, for sure I’ll be really happy.”
Khromacheva next plays Stephanie Nauta of the United States, who beat Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia 64 26 75 in another first round match.
In other junior results around Melbourne Park on Sunday, No. 2 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada defeated Miyu Kato of Japan 62 64 whilst Orange Bowl champion Anett Kontaveit of Estonia defeated Miho Kowase of Japan 61 60.
Jade Suvrijn of France scored an upset by defeating Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia 75 61. Indy De Vroome of Netherlands defeated Eri Hozumi of Japan 64 67(0) 61.
In the boys event, No. 4 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan defeated Pietro Licciardi of Italy 75 76(4) and No. 9 seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia defeated Jay Andrijic of Australia 62 60.
Stefano Napolitano, winner of the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano earlier this month, also progressed, with a straight sets victory over qualifier Trey Strobel of the United States.