By Blake Shessel, USTA Southern Intern
ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- At 14 years old, Jayanth Chintham is the youngest player in the men’s draw of the USONP Southern Sectional Qualifying tournament at Windward Lake Club this weekend. However, you never would have guessed it by the way he played against 23-year-old teaching pro Hunter Perry.
In his first-round match Friday, Chintham demonstrated his powerful serve, damaging forehand and uncanny ability to hustle; there never seemed to be a drop shot too short or a ball too wide for the young athlete. From game one, Chintham proved to Perry that he wasn’t an opponent to overlook. Despite his athletic ability, mental mistakes from a lack of experience, cost Chintham the lead and he lost a close first-set tiebreak to Perry.
The junior returned to the court in the second set showcasing another crucial talent of his: the ability to read his opponent and adjust his game accordingly. By slicing returns and forcing Perry to the net, Chintham gained an early advantage. After breaking Perry’s service in the opening game, Chintham never looked back taking the second set 6-2.
Feeling the effects of the stifling 106-degree weather, Perry elected to retire from his match instead of pushing his luck in the third set, handing Chintham a win 6-7(5-7), 6-.
Following his match, Chintham and his coach, Torrey Hawkins, gave valuable insight into the youth’s promising game. "His hustle is noteworthy," said Hawkins, who has coached Chintham for the past five years. However, according to Hawkins, Chintham’s hustle allows him to overcompensate for his lack of depth in his powerful baseline groundstrokes. Therefore in practice, Hawkins is continuously working on the depth of Chintham’s game.
Hawkins, who coaches out of the host club and serves as tournament director, emphasizes making Chintham physically stronger as well as neutralizing the boy’s game. In addition, he has Chintham playing up an age group so the rising athlete is constantly challenged on the court.
Even at so young of an age, Chintham recognizes the weaknesses in his own game. "I can hustle, but I am working on making my serve more powerful and getting free points from my serve," the 14-year-old said after his match. Motivated by his dad, a former player, and his early success, Chintham is further inspired by his role model Roger Federer, who showed a similar tenacious spirit to the boy’s by defeating Julien Benneteau in a 5-set thriller at Wimbledon today.
"I think, in my first tournament, I won. If I hadn’t won that trophy, I probably wouldn’t still be playing," Chintham recalls. Who knows, maybe one day he might lift the Wimbledon trophy too.
For the second year in a row the Windward Lake Club hosts the tournament, which will run from June 29 to July 3.
The US Open National Playoffs presented by playtennis.com
returns for a third year as a series of sectional qualifying tournaments, held in 13 of the 17 USTA Sections throughout the country. The 13 men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champions from each sectional qualifying tournament will advance to the US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles Championship. All three tournaments will be held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event. The US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles Championship will be held August 17-20. The US Open National Playoffs – Mixed Doubles Championship will be held August 22-25.