N.J.’s Wen advances to round of 16 at boys 12 nationals


Evan Wen looks like a man among boys at the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships at LTP Tennis and Swim Club in Mount Pleasant.

At 6-1, he’s well over a foot taller than many of the 128 competitors. And the 12-year-old top seed from Morristown, N.J., backs up his size with immense talent that includes huge forehands and 110 mph serves.

Wen used those weapons when he needed them most in taking a pair of victories on Tuesday at LTP Tennis and Swim Club to vault into Wednesday’s round of 16. He also flashed a solid net game, a consistent backhand and good mobility.

Indeed, he isn’t joking when he says his goal is to “go pro.” Of course, he has a ways to go to catch up with his hero, Roger Federer.

Wen pounded big serves and uncorked clean winners off his forehand to charge out of a 5-5 first-set deadlock and 4-3 deficit in the second set to post a 7-5, 6-4 victory over talented and consistent 17th seed Bruno Kuzuhara of Coconut Creek, Fla., in an early afternoon third-round match.

Early Tuesday morning, he scored an easier 6-1, 6-3 win over Damian Sancillo of Henrico, Va., in the second round.

“When I get the chance I go for it,” he said about his powerful forehand. “But it’s definitely tougher when I’m playing against a player who is consistent (such as the much smaller Kuzuhara).”

Wen is just now seeing the results of his seven hours of daily training. “This is the first year I’ve been seeded in the nationals,” said Wen, who is scheduled to play a 1:15 p.m. match on Wednesday at LTP.

After Sunday’s washout and Monday’s scattered rainstorms, tournament officials instituted the no-ad scoring format, which speeded up play and helped put the tournament back on track in main draw singles.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com