Thai Kwiatkowski was in Mexico on Saturday and flying to Florida on Sunday. After a four hour drive, he arrived in Bradenton ready for the Eddie Herr. He earned one of two special exemptions into the Eddie Herr since he was unable to be here for qualifying. All of that travel did not seem to stop him on the courts though, he won his first match against Tendai Tapfuma, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.
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He flew to Miami on Sunday, drove four hours across the state, rested Monday and then beat Tendai Tapfuma, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 at the IMG Academy.
"I'm more mentally tired. Physically I feel pretty good even though I took a flight. It was a journey for me to get here," said Kwiatkowski, 16. "But you can't miss this tournament."
"That's quite a bit of traveling for a young athlete," said his father, Tim, an emergency medicine physician at a rural community hospital outside Charlotte, N.C.
Kwiatkowski has played tournaments in Mexico, Italy and Spain and plans to play in South America for a month next year.
"It's good experience to see if I have what it takes to play professional tennis," he said.
Kwiatkowski is playing in his sixth Herr tournament, where two years ago he reached the Boys 14 singles final.
Today, in the second round, Kwiatkowski plays the winner of the match to be completed this morning between 15th-seeded Stefan Vinti and Johan Skattum of Norway. Vinti trailed 6-7, 6-1, 2-0, when play was suspended because of darkness.
Kwiatkowski earned the special exemption by winning the doubles title with partner Luca Corinteli in the Yucatan Cup, which is also a Grade 1 International Tennis Federation Tournament.
He could not be at IMG on Saturday for the Eddie Herr Qualifying Tournament, so his only shot was to earn one of the two special exemptions reserved for players still competing in the preceding tournament.