Louk Sorensen back on the professional scene
Hoping to qualify for the first Grand Slam of next year in Melbourne
Louk Sorensen of Ireland has moved from a ranking of 1064 in the world to 491. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
Conor Niland’s ventures into the Wimbledon and US Open main singles draws aside, the last interesting story about Irish men’s tennis in a global sense involved Vere Thomas St Leger Goold. A finalist at the 1879 Wimbledon Championships, Goold was tried and convicted of murder in Monte Carlo in 1907 after he was caught with the sliced-up remains of a woman’s body in his trunk.
Not quite as dramatic but significantly more uplifting Louk Sorensen has thrown himself back into the professional tennis circuit and has made huge progress in quite a short time. The talented Irish Davis Cup player, who made it to the second round of the 2010 Australian Open but was forced to retire the following year, is hoping to qualify for the first Grand Slam of next year in Melbourne.
When Sorensen qualified for Australia in 2010, he was drawn in the first round against Lu Yen-hsun of Chinese Taipei, ranked 101st in the world. He beat Lu in four sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 and faced 6ft 9in American John Isner in the second round, falling 6-3, 7-6, 7-5. The following year after a long layoff because of injury, he qualified for the US Open and faced Rogério Dutra da Silva in the first round. However, the Irishman retired because of recurring cramp. Although he retired Sorensen had been dipping his toe back into the game. Last month he qualified for the 2013 Türk Telecom Izmir Cup, where he went through the qualifying event and reached the final without dropping a set before losing to top-seed Mikhail Kukushkin. His reward for that run was to move from a ranking of 1064 in the world to 491.
That’s still not enough to get into the Australian Open qualification event but the Irishman intends to spend a four week stint in Asia with his brother and coach Kevin, also a former professional who competed with the Irish Davis Cup team until 2006. Sorensen had a career high of 213 but even that ranking probably did not do justice to his natural ability.
While it’s an ambitious target to make so much ground so quickly – he will probably have to get to around 220 in the world to get into the Australian Qualification even.- Sorensen is 28 and does have some time on his side as a New Zealand survey showed the average age of a male player breaking into the top 100 is 27.
The main challenge could be staying healthy. His initial retirement in 2011 was because he was plagued by injury from the start of 2010 and last year he played only five times.
Sorensen, whose father Sean played at Wimbledon in 1977 before losing in the first round to the great Rod Laver, also made it through to the first round of the US Open in 2011.
He is now just a ranking point behind Ireland’s Sam Barry, who has played 25 tournaments this year to Sorensen’s three. James McGee remains Ireland’s top ranked singles player at 246.