Young prodigy earns respect for 907 [Tennis]

July 26, 2013

Jayden Hodgson

Typical Outsiders, assuming Alaskans can’t swing a tennis racket.

Jayden Hodgson of Anchorage is more than happy to prove them wrong.

The 15-year-old prodigy this summer has won a pair of singles titles in Under-16 tournaments in North Dakota and Minnesota and made the quarterfinals at the Open.

“I’m playing good,” he told me. “Keep it simple; nothing special.”

Hodgson game has been special, though.

The 5-foot-8 teenager uses a big serve and pinpoint passing shots off his two-handed backhand to dispose of his opponents.

Last week, he won the Pepsi Red River Open in Fargo, N.D., without dropping a set, winning the final 6-2, 6-1.

The week before at the Northern Junior Open in Duluth, Minn, he knocked off the top three seeds en route to the championship match that he won 6-3, 6-2.

He showed up to the tournaments as an unranked, unknown player and walked away with titles and respect.

“They didn’t actually think I’d be good,” he said. “They expect to beat me and then when they lose they aren’t very happy.”

He laughs.

Hodgson works hard on his game and thinks it’s funny when people assume he can’t play well just because of where he lives. He’s not the last Alaska athlete to experience that and he won’t be the last.

At least he will have another Alaskan at his side when he plays at the Pacific Northwest Sectional Championships next month in Seattle. Hodgson will compete in singles in addition to teaming up with Reed Lekander of Anchorage for U-18 doubles.