Courting success on world tour

Published 6:00am 16 August 2023

Courting success on world tour
Words by Nick Crockford

Hudson Baxter is living the dream – this week in Sydney, then Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong or Thailand.

Jetting across Asia and Oceania has become the norm for this 18-year-old from Lawnton who is on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Junior Tour.

His first two titles came this year – in February winning the J100 doubles in straight sets, with Sydney’s Jonas Hahm, in New Zealand.

And earlier this month, Baxter won his first ITF Junior Tour crown taking the J30 singles during week one in Lautoka, Fiji. He was also runner-up in the week two singles.

Baxter is back in Australia this week for the J200 Sydney titles, but could not replicate his recent success in the South Pacific.

It comes two years after the former Genesis Christian College, Bray Park student secured an ITF ranking and joined the world tour at 16, completing his senior schooling online.

|“I was actually late to start compared to lots of players on the ITF junior tour,” Baxter said, “(they) start at 13 or 14.|

“My coaches believed in me and did everything to prepare me. Travelling alone is hard, but my family support me and Facetime helps a lot.

“I’ve made a lot of friends from other countries, players, their parents and coaches and tournament officials and everyone looks out for each other.

“The crowds in Fiji at the finals, watching and cheering … it was amazing. I loved it. It made a big difference.”

His short-term aim is to move onto the ATP Futures and Challengers Tours and then European tournaments. Long term it is "to be #1 in the world".

Hudson Baxter being presented with his ITF Singles trophy earlier this month by Fiji Tennis President Romulo Patel

Baxter started playing tennis at the age of 10. Football, athletics and swimmer were his sports until joining friends playing at school.

“I just loved the feeling of hitting the ball and doing my own thing,” he recalled, “I was about 12 when I became addicted to tennis.

|"I knew this was all I wanted to do. I set some serious goals and focussed on training hard."|

He joined Matchpoint Tennis Joyner and then Genesis' tennis program while doing squads at Matchpoint North Lakes and Pine Tennis as well as Saturday north Brisbane fixtures.

Training included early morning squads at Bracken Ridge, train and bus rides to Sunnybank and Griffith University, as well as evening strength and conditioning.

Baxter played junior development series in Queensland, progressed to the Australia Junior Tour and won his first prize money aged 15 at the Cairns ATM - $50 as doubles runner-up. 

There was also inspiration after watching Rafael Nadal train at the Brisbane International. "He signed my hat," Baxter said, "I think I was 13, maybe."

Since joining the ITF World Junior Tour he has also played in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Caledonia, Vietnam and Guam, when it was hit by a category four typhoon.

Baxter was trapped in his hotel and slept in the bath for protection, while the typhoon tore the balcony and doors from an adjoining room and levelled many buildings.

“In reality I’m only just getting started,” he said, “I’ve learned how to prepare properly, stand up for myself, train hard and make the most of each event, even if knocked out first round.

“I have a close-knit family so it’s hard to leave home, but after two days, I’m itching to go again. I’m so grateful they’ve found a way to allow me to build the confidence to do this.”

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