WESLEY CHAPEL — Alex Domijan's stoic nature plays to his advantage on the tennis court.
And it doesn't hurt to be 6-foot-7.
The 18-year-old has climbed to a No. 4 ranking among the nation's top college tennis recruits on tennisrecruiting.net. Along the way, he has won international tournaments such as the 2008 Eddie Herr tournament which brings in players from as far as Russia and Great Britain.
"It's how hard he works," Domijan's coach Marton Balla said. "It doesn't matter if he has had a hard day at school or whatever is going on outside of the tennis court. I know that when he shows up here to practice or when he goes somewhere to play, that he is going to bring his best attitude."
For Balla, having a student like Domijan is unusual because he doesn't seem to be preoccupied with the usual distractions of others his age.
"You never see him wrapped up with his Ipod or on the phone texting away," Balla said. "His focus, particularly for tennis, is impeccable. I've never seen an athlete his age possess that. It's an essential to becoming a professional so I think he has what it takes to go all the way."
Domijan began playing tennis at age 3 in Gainesville, where he was born. His father, Alex Sr., built a tennis court in the family's back yard and the youngster picked up the game easily. By 8, he was playing in tournaments. Five years ago, the family moved to Saddlebrook, where the tennis academy has made it easier for Domijan to continue improving.
"When we moved here, it made it a lot easier because the schools are all within the Saddlebrook community," Alex Domijan Sr. said. "When a player doesn't have to worry about running all over the place and knows that his school and tennis are connected then it takes some of the stress out of it. I think coming to work with these coaches and training here has made a big difference."
The young Domijan couldn't agree more. Since arriving at Saddlebrook he's had the opportunity to pit himself against professional tennis players, most notably Tampa native James Blake.
Playing against professionals as well as receiving guidance from a staff of resident pros has polished not only Domijan's forehand and backhand, but his mental strength as well.
"Everybody can hit a forehand or backhand but not everybody can keep their cool in the big moments," Balla said. "Alex's ability to stay calm and keep fighting has been crucial to his success. Yeah he's a good player, but it's his work ethic and mental strength that makes him special."
Perhaps it's Domijan's approach to the game that has made him so successful. His favorite part of the sport is practicing and working to get better.
"Practicing is the best part for me," Domijan said. "That's the key to success. You work hard and you'll see the results. That's my goal. I don't know if I want to go to college or go pro, I still have to decide. We'll see how the next six months go."