Interesting. Sounds like another promising albeit bratty kid to keep our eyes on.
Damico: Good player, bad boy, or both?
By Charles Bricker
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted July 5 2006
WIMBLEDON, England -- Back at the USTA's Carson, Calif., development center, where America's bad boy junior does his training, they must be proud of him.
"Yeah, I wasn't too bad today," Kellen Damico, 17, said Tuesday after flipping his racket only a few times and doing a good job of limiting his sneers at the chair umpire and various linespeople.
Even in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat in the Wimbledon juniors, Damico didn't go into one of his full freakouts on court, and perhaps he's finally getting the message after John Roddick, Andy's big brother and coach, threw Damico out of his San Antonio academy a few months ago.
"It got so bad I was pulling him off the court four times a week," said Roddick, who seemed genuinely unhappy to have to terminate him.
At a time when U.S. tennis fortunes are at low tide and with no predictable top-20 prospects in the teenage ranks, Damico represents one of several maybes.
Maybe if he brings that temper under control, he can take full advantage of a serve that already averages about 120 mph and a power game that seems well-suited for hardcourts and grass.
The USTA, which took him on after he was booted out of the Roddick academy, has set him up with a San Francisco anger management and mental toughness expert in hopes of channeling the kid's considerable energy in the right direction.
There's no question of Damico's talent. He's ranked No. 25 among ITF juniors and he wouldn't have been at Roddick's in the first place if he didn't have some high skills.
"I'd like to think I could be the next Andy or James Blake. One of my dreams is to play Davis Cup for the U.S. or win a Grand Slam. I'll just keep telling myself I can be as good as that," he said.
In fact, no one is quite sure how good he is. The serve is big and effective but the ground strokes are erratic, which could have a lot to do with his inability to focus positively on court.
"I used to be really bad, when I was 10," he said. "And I still lose my head. But my dad is from Wyoming, and he's really big on hard work and doing things the old-fashioned way. He doesn't put up with any nonsense."
Perhaps not, but somewhere between parents and coaches, Damico has gone out of control too often.
It's obvious he's spent a lot of time around the Roddicks. He's picked up several of Andy's court mannerisms. "Andy's been kind of like a big brother to me," he said.
But he admits the parting between himself and John Roddick was "bad.''
"I've tried to keep in touch, and maybe someday I'll get a chance to play Andy and John will be there and we'll all have a big laugh about what happened."
Damico, born in Torrance, Calif., but now a resident of Parker, Colo., is packed and ready to fly back to Los Angeles to play a couple of Futures events.
He'll finally get a chance to sit down with his anger specialist, too. At a time when Americans are searching for any teenager with talent to fill the gaping void that was highlighted by the U.S.' wipeout at Wimbledon, Damico bears watching.