Sports

Kirkland tennis player wins prestigious French tourney

For the first time since 2005, an American won the French Les Petits As Tennis Tournament at the end of January. Kirkland resident Henrik Wiersholm, 13, won the tournament, and only lost one set on his way to the title.

The tournament, which features the top international players ages 12-14, is often considered the European equivalent of the Orange Bowl in Florida because of the caliber of players who attend.

Wiersholm entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, and beat No. 5 Bogdan Borza of Romania 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 for the title. The win makes him the seventh American to bring home the championship since the tournament began in 1983.

Prior to playing in France, Wiersholm and a contingent of other American players traveled to the Aegon Junior International tournament in England. The Kirkland native lost a 3-set match to his U.S. teammate Stefan Kozlov in the final.

Wiersholm’s coach in Kirkland, Dan Willman said it was unbelievable for Wiersholm to win the tournament, but there was an even more impressive part.

“What’s more impressive, is putting a streak like this together,” said Willman. “I was very impressed and he continued to get stronger each week.”

Willman has been coaching Wiersholm since he was nine, and helped the athlete get started in age level tournaments and quickly saw him progress from there.

“I see a major improvement every year,” said the coach. Willman said Wiersholm moves well on the court and has a very big ground stroke, but one of his biggest strengths is his ability to focus on the task at hand.

Before the first tournament he played in Europe began, Wiersholm said his main goal for the trip wasn’t necessarily about where he’d finish, but just about playing his game.

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