Bruno Kuzuhara rises through the tennis ranks—at age 13
Marcello and Patricia Kuzuhara moved to the United States from Brazil, when their son, Bruno, was only 1. They made the move to take advantage of opportunities that they wouldn’t have had in Sao Paulo.
But, early on, Bruno had other priorities in mind.
“My mom and dad bought me a little plastic tennis racket [at age 4],” Bruno says. “I used to hit the balls around my house and hit the walls. I loved it.”
Marcello recalls it with a laugh. “He hit the walls, broke furniture,” he says. “But we had no idea tennis would go further than that.”
Nearly a decade later, Bruno is breaking more than just furniture when it comes to his burgeoning tennis career.
Now 13, the Coconut Creek resident has stormed into the upper tier in his age group, based on United States Tennis Association rankings for Florida. As of early September, Bruno was ranked No. 3 in Florida for the Boys 14 division; he’s 10th nationally.
His career took off when he was at Coconut Creek Elementary School. His parents wanted to keep him as active as possible, so they enrolled him in recreational sports. He played soccer for the Coconut Creek Hornets while taking tennis lessons with his current coach, Michael Bennett, at Dillon Tennis Center in Oakland Park.
“I took one lesson with him [Bennett], and we’ve been together ever since then,” Bruno says.
Adds Marcello: “If it wasn’t for his coach, he may have looked at the sport differently. [Bennett is] a very dedicated man and has played a key part in Bruno’s tennis career and his success.”
Bruno got an early start in competitive tennis, playing his first tournament, the Grand Prix Rookie in Plantation, in 2009 at age 5. A few more years of practice gave him his first tournament win at age 10, in Wellington at the Quail Ridge Country Club Spring Tennis Classic in 2014—a defining moment for the young boy’s tennis career.
“My first match when I won, was eye-opening to me. That’s when I knew I would continue to play tennis and not soccer,” Bruno says.
From then on, Bruno, with the support of his family and his coach, began to train daily and compete regularly. To keep up with his schooling, he started taking online classes through Florida Virtual School. Even though tennis is his passion, Bruno still puts his studies before the game, completing all of his assignments before his daily practices.
His parents are under a tight schedule, as well.
“I’m responsible for all the scheduling and travel plans. I’m the nutritionist and the psychologist,” Patricia says. “It’s not easy to be a parent; it’s definitely not easy to be a tennis parent.”
The hard work has paid off. In 2016, he made it to the finals (boys 12 singles) of the Orange Bowl International tournament and won the doubles competition at the Eddie Herr International Championships. In July, he placed third at the National Clay Court Championships (boys 14). As of September, the Tennis Recruiting Network ranked Bruno seventh on its national boys Class of 2022 list.
“Seeing him grow and compete over the years is great,” Bennett says. “Bruno has always had the passion for the sport, and as he gets older, he’s only getting stronger and better.”
Bruno’s parents and coach all say however far he wants to take his career, with his determination and passion, he can make it. Bennett hopes to see him play for a Division I college. For his part, Bruno hopes the sport will open doors to college scholarships, so he can have a bright academic future, as well.
“Tennis is all about doing the best that I can do and seeing where it takes me,” Bruno says.