15 year old, Michelle Larcher de Brito, from Portugal via Nick Bollettieri’s (IMG Academy) has been touted as the next big “thing” in women’s tennis for the past couple years. Michelle has won matches in the main draw of top level tournaments on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and even beaten a top 20 player, i.e. Agnieszka Radwanska, and taken Serena Williams to three sets.
300-500 in the world and never won a pro tournament even at the satellite or challenger level. As another in a long line of IMG and Bollettieri protégés, Larcher de Brito has received several wildcards along the way in addition to playing qualifying events and smaller tournaments. There is clearly not one way to “reach the top” as players such as Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, etc. have shown in terms of jumping onto the top level tournaments without having to play through and win titles as a junior or on the satellite circuit. One of the biggest challenges a top player faces on a regular basis is winning against players who play freely having nothing to lose against them. Without the seasoning of top level junior success, many promising phenoms find this pressure very difficult to overcome. As serious tennis fans know, the path from early, promising success as a young teen to Grand Slam titles can be a bit rocky for many talented players. The weight of expectations, pressure to win aand injuries are just a few of the challenges on the path ahead for Larcher de Brito.