At times you take a step back and contemplate the maturity of young athletes, especially tennis players, many of whom have already travelled the world before finishing school.
Canberra player Charlie Camus was just 14 years of age when he headed to Europe last year with coach Brydan Klein for a series of tournaments.
He turned 15 during that tour and won four ITF titles.
While speaking with him last week, a couple of days after he was eliminated in the second round of the men’s Canberra Pro tour event, I was reminded of how his maturity and ease of conversation belies his age.
Charlie spoke about how he became involved in the sport.
“When I was six years old, Dad took me to the Australian Open. I loved the atmosphere and I fell in love with playing and kept pursuing it,” recalls Charlie.
“I started to train harder when I was nine or 10 years old and went overseas when I was 12 to play in an under 14s tournament in Germany.”
In December, upon returning home, he trained with fellow Canberran Nick Kyrgios.
“Nick has been great,” says Charlie, “He offers plenty of advice. I’ve been hitting with him when he is home. It’s been an honour to play with him.”
Charlie’s success in Europe was rewarded with a wildcard into the Australian Junior Open. He was the youngest in the field.
His sights are now set on all junior grand slams. So along with the Australian Open, he’s looking to qualify for the French, Wimbledon and the US Junior Opens.
Says Charlie, “My current ranking in the juniors is 230 in the world, and I’m ranked around 1550 in the men’s.”
His rise up the rankings is emulated in time spent on court.
“I’m training 18 hours on court each week along with four or five hours in the gym.”
Much of that time is spent training with Klein, who was also a talented junior.
So how do the tennis aspirations of an extremely talented 15-year-old fit with the demands of school?
The day after he was knocked out of the Canberra Pro Tour, Charlie was back at school.
“I’m in Year 10 at Telopea Park,” says Charlie, “The school has been very helpful, allowing me time to train and travel for tournaments. It’s important to keep up with studies. This year will be tough, and next year in Year 11, I will probably be doing distance education.”
One of the advantages of going to Telopea Park School is that Charlie speaks French, a definite bonus on tour in Europe.
And at the moment, he’s soaking up all that he can from tennis.
“I look up to players such as Roger and Novak, and Nick is a great role model.”
Charlie Camus already has considerable capability as a tennis player, and he knows the work required to build a successful career in the sport. He has already taken up opportunities that have helped him grow and develop so that he can face with confidence all that the tennis world has to offer in the future.