Christian Alshon is No. 2 in the national USTA Boys’ 16s rankings, but that didn’t keep the Boca Raton resident from coming back and competing in high school tennis for Boca Raton High this spring.
His love of the camaraderie aspect of team tennis explains his love for doubles, winning the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” State Doubles Championship in both 2013 (Boys’ 12s) and 2014 (Boys’ 14s) with Bradenton’s Russell Benkaim.
“Russell and I have had some great success in doubles together,” said the 15-year-old Alshon. “We originally paired up at the Bobby Curtis 12s together and have become great friends and partners since then. We will be playing the L2 [USTA National Selection Tournament in Ft. Myers] in May together.”
Now the No. 2-ranked Alshon is equally eyeing his singles success and potentially taking over the top spot in the Boys’ 16s. His mapping out a summer tournament schedule became a bit more complicated last month after he won a spot on the USTA’s 2016 Team USA National Junior Team.
Alshon spoke with USTA Florida after winning a spot on the USTA traveling squad:
Were you expecting the invite to the USTA National Junior Team playoffs?
Alshon: I was not expecting the invite to the playoffs because last year it took place during [USTA] intersectionals [team play]. I’m glad they changed the dates, because last year I had to choose between competing and playing intersectionals. I am really looking forward to training with the USTA team. There are several ITF’s and nationals lined up for us to play this summer.
When you won the Boys’ 16s at the USTA Winter Nationals last December, did that change your mindset?
Winning the Winter Nationals gave me a bunch of faith and confidence in my game, which I never thought I was capable of.
Who are some of your closest friends on the junior circuit?
Some of my friends on the junior circuit are Alexander Kovacevic, Russell Benkaim, Robert Hammond, and Michael Heller. Most of these guys are [born in the] 2000s and are great competitors. Over the years we have, and will continue, to help each other be the best we can be.
What pro players are your favorites?
One of my favorite players is [Stan] Wawrinka because of his impeccable one-handed backhand. I am also really inspired by his solid forehand.
What is your coaching situation right now?
I am currently training with Eleazar Magallan at Magallan Tennis Academy. The USTA has been more than helpful with me and my progress. They have worked with Eleazar and me to help my game.
As you get closer to graduation, what do you think will be the determining factors choosing between college and going pro?
I feel comfortable playing for a great college, while keeping pro tennis close to the forefront. I feel that as I and my game mature, the options will become known more easily.
Will you attempt another title at the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” State Championships in singles or doubles this year?
I’m not sure what my tournament schedule will hold this year. I’m enjoying the competition both in the USTA, as well as the ITFs. Both are helping me to develop my tennis and be a better competitor.
As part of the TEAM USA National Junior Team this summer, Alshon and his seven other teammates will train together and travel to play against top junior competition from around the world.
“I hope to continue my progress and develop my game in an effort to make myself a better competitor, person and player,” he says. “I’m thankful to my coaches, my parents, the USTA, and my friends for all of the support and opportunities that they provide for me.”
The 2016 USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” State Singles Championship, representing some of the best junior tennis players in the strongest of the 17 USTA sections across the country, will be held on June 11-15 at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach. To register or for more tournament info click here.