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Costa superkid tames Britain's tennis No.1
15 April 2016 @ 19:40

TENNIS tug-o'-war kid Nicola Kuhn celebrated his official switch to Spanish citizenship by winning the nation's top  junior tournament on Sunday. And in the process he blew away the challenge of top-seed Jay Clarke, the Derby youngster being touted in Britain as a future Andy Murray. 

Just three weeks after his 16th birthday, Kuhn, the most prodigious young talent in Spain, won the Juan Carlos Ferrero Trophy at Villena – the country's only Grade 1 tournament for players aged 18 and under. It was his second tennis crown in a row after he bagged the Grade 2 title at Vinaros, near Castellon the previous week.

And to emphasise his huge talent, the superfit Torrevieja six-footer was the youngest competitor in each tournament.

The back-to-back titles earned Kuhn, pictured above, a mammoth 250 ITF ranking points, rocketing him to No.21 in the world rankings, one of only two players in the top 100 born in the 21st century.  His success has also and providing a timely morale-booster for his first tilt at the French Open at Roland Garros next month.

The son of a German father and Russian mother, Nico and his family have lived in Torrevieja since he was three months old. However, he switched his tennis allegiance to Germany when the country he regards as home felt unable to help with his colossal travel and equipment costs.

Over the past four years the Kuhn kid has led the German juniors to a string of successes, including the Final of last year's Junior Davis Cup, in which he was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Despite those successes, Nico never felt totally comfortable playing for Germany, even though he speaks the language fluently, along with English and Russian.

I have always felt more Spanish than anything – and Spain has always been my home,'' he says. And with major sponsors like La Liga, Nike and Yonex now backing his progress, last year he began the process of switching to playing under the Spanish flag.

The process proved to be far more complicated than Nico and his parents had expected – not least the red tape involved in obtaining a Spanish passport in addition to the one Nico already had.

The official switch finally came last week, coinciding with the Juan Carlos Ferrero tournament – which also happens to be his 'home' base. He has trained and studied at former world No.1 Ferrero's's academy since he was 12 and his victory in Sunday's final against fellow Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina confirmed him as Spain's top junior player.

The manner of his victory in the final was not ideal, Fokina retiring with a back injury with Kuhn takng the first set 6-3 and leading 1-0 in the second set.

But the No.7 seed had been in supreme form all week, as epitomised by his 6-1, 6-3 thrashing of 17-year-old Clarke, Britain's No.1 junior,– in the quarter-final.

Nico, who began 2016 ranked No.70, is well ahead of schedule in his declared aim of reaching the world Top 10 this year. He has also set his sights on climbing into the ATP's top 600 and providing a springboard to fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a top professional player.

At his current rate of progress, it seems merely a matter of when, rather than if King Kuhn will achieve his ultimate ambition. He has already sampled the Grand Slaam atmosphere at the 2015 US Open and this year's Australian Open. Now he feels he is ready to make a serious challenge for a top junior title - and  has earmarked Wimbledon in July as his prime target this summer.







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Meisei said:
21 August 2017 @ 13:31

Thank you for your article. Glad to learn more of this charming young player.
I'm supporting him far away from Japan. Not just because he is a talented dynamic athlete, but also for his sensitive and compassionate heart, his firmer and mature view of life. A unique and great young man:)

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