Pat Van der Meer is no prophet. But the co-director of the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy certainly seemed like one last weekend when she sent one of her students, Nathan Perrone, off to the USTA National Open.
"When he went off, I said, 'I think you can win this tournament,'" she recalled.
The 15-year-old did just that, as the tennis prodigy took down Maxwell Mendelsohn 6-1, 6-1 in the Boys 16 championship in Austin, Texas, at the Austin Tennis Academy.
"He's an awesome kid," Van der Meer said. "He's a really nice boy as well as a great competitor. We're really proud of him.
"He's worked really hard and he wants to be a pro."
Perrone, a Mount Laurel, N.J., native, reserved his spot in the finals after defeating Artur Jakubowski 6-0, 6-1, Max Palmer 6-0, 7-6 (6) and fifth-seeded Chase Wood, 7-5, 3-6, 6-0.
The No. 2 seed cruised from there, easing past Mendelsohn after he advanced to the championship by upsetting No. 1-seeded William Genesen in the semifinal.
"This doesn't come as a surprise to us," Van der Meer said.
Perrone just turned 15 in September but has already drawn the attention of those in the sport. He is listed as a Blue Chip, 5-star recruit by tennisrecruiting.net and is rated the fourth-best freshman in the country as well as the best overall player in New Jersey.
He will look to add to his rankings this weekend in Florida, where he will travel with Van Der Meer tennis director Marcos Ondruska to the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships.
"We just see the sky is the limit for him," Van der Meer said.