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Maturing Strobel an ace in Arizona

Bradenton Herald

BRADENTON — Trey Strobel doesn’t hesitate when naming the locales in which he has played tennis.

“Dallas. Arizona. San Antonio,” Strobel said. “I’ve also played in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I’ve traveled all around.”

Just a few well-known places Strobel has displayed his ever-changing game over the past two years. The 14-year-old estimates he’s played in 40 cities during the past 24 months.

Those are the requirements when chasing a dream.

At this point, Arizona is probably his favorite state in which to play a tennis tournament.

Earlier this month, Strobel won the boys 16s single division of the USTA level 3 Copper Bowl in Tucson, Ariz. Last year, he won the boys 14s division crown of the junior tournament.

The work Strobel has put in during the past 24 months is not common for the average 14-year-old boy.

During the past two years, Strobel has taken only two weekends off. The routine has become second nature.

He trains four days a week, rests one day and plays in a tennis tournament somewhere around the nation — or even the world — on the weekend.

“I train five-and-a-half hours a day normally,” said Strobel, who has trained at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy on the campus of IMG Academy for four years and aspires to walk in the footsteps of Roger Federer. “Ninety minutes of fitness and the rest is tennis. I get tired often, but we try to take a couple days off every once in a while.”

Strobel’s tireless work ethic has been an asset.

“Trey has had this intuitive nature to compete,” coach Mark Dalzell said. “Almost every weekend he’s played a tournament for at least two years. The experience that you gain from that is amazing. But not too many people can maintain that for an extended period of time. His hard work has truly paid off.”

“I actually beat the same kid that I beat last year in the Copper Bowl,” said Strobel, who moved to Bradenton from Memphis, Tenn. “It was a tougher match this time. Playing in the 16s gave me more of a challenge.”

Strobel is ranked third nationally in the USTA Junior Singles Division. He reached the semifinals of the Orange Bowl Championship last month and the quarterfinals of the El Paso Youth Tennis Center tournament in October.

But he only reached the Round of 32 in November’s Eddie Herr International Tennis Tournament at IMG Academy.

“The other kid was just better than me that day,” Strobel said.

He rebounded to win in Arizona.

Yet, his success in Tucson parallels the amount of work Strobel put in, coupled with a natural growth spurt.

About 18 months ago, Strobel was about 5-foot-5, 125 pounds, and opponents hammered him every chance they had. He was smaller and weaker than most people he faced. His velocity was slow. His mental capacity wasn’t strong enough, and his game wasn’t consistent.

Strobel now stands at 6-foot-1, 157 pounds. His arsenal has grown with his size.

“His game is now starting to mold into his size,” Dalzell said. “His weaknesses are now his strengths. His body is catching up to his game.”

“My serves are faster and a lot more consistent,” Strobel said. “My backhand is a lot stronger. Last year, it was more of just getting it in, but this year I can be more aggressive, and my net play has improved a lot.”

So much so that the lefty has a vision of playing more in International Tennis Federation-sanctioned tournaments with the hopes of boosting his ITF junior ranking, where he’s ranked 889 in the world. Strobel has a goal of being ranked in the top 500 of the ITF by next year.

However, in the meantime, he’ll continue to work hard and relish his second Copper Bowl victory.

“I had a lot of fun at the Copper Bowl,” Strobel said. “I just want to put in the time, and get better. I want to be No. 1 in the world someday.”

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