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IMG Academy Headlines

IMG's Herr in Bradenton showcases players from more than 75 countries

GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald
Sweden's Gustav Hansson in action during a match Tuesday with USA's Michael Mmoh at the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Tournament

More than 75 countries are representing the field at the 2012 Eddie Herr International Tennis Championships, showcasing talented players from all corners of the world.

From Asia to South America and everywhere in between, this year's Eddie Herr at IMG Academy proved again how diverse it really is.

"The international flair, obviously being here at the academy," tournament Director Mark Dalzell said. "We have the ability and the facility to accommodate players from all over the world."

Elias Ymer, who knocked off the top-ranked boys player American Noah Rubin in a quarterfinal, hails from Stockholm, Sweden.

He was making his second appearance in the Herr tournament, but his first as an active competitor.

The last time he tried competing, he became sick with a sore throat and couldn't play any matches.

But in Friday's quarterfinal round, Ymer continued the weeklong theme of upsets at the Herr when he beat the No. 12 ranked boys junior player in the world.

And he did so by demonstrating how solid tennis is in Scandinavia.

The sport is a global brand and the Herr field -- from 12 year olds all the way to the 18-year-old divisions

among the boys and girls -- is as well.

"That's sort of tennis in general," Dalzell said. "Tennis is such an international sport, you're getting the best players from everywhere here. Competition will feed competition. So wherever good players are going, that's where everybody wants to be. So tennis being the universal sport, it just happens to follow the pros all the way down to the juniors."

Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic had relatives in the event, owing to another trend this week: tennis pedigrees.

Michael Mmoh, an IMG student, has that with his father, who once ranked as high as No. 105 in the world.

Alexander Zverev, another boys 18 player, has two parents who played in the Davis and Fed Cups for Russia as well as a brother, who is an ATP pro.

The common link is the foundation developed at the Eddie Herr, a diverse tournament that reaches a global audience as players from all over descend on Bradenton every year for a chance at the prestigious championship.

"I always heard all the good players won it," Ymer said. "... It's a good tournament before Orange Bowl."

The Orange Bowl, which follows the Herr, is a contributing factor to the enormous international pool of players.

Boys and girls mixing it up for a week in Manatee County do so, mostly, with the foresight that a trip to Florida's east coast also looms.

"The way it's scheduled on the calendar, it's right before Orange Bowl," Dalzell said. "So you have a lot of players wanting to hit the two biggest junior tournaments in the world. One after another. So that's the way it was designed. That's the way it was scheduled on the calendar. So you have players not coming over for one tournament, but two tournaments."