Young tennis players show improvement
It’s been a year since the last Winterbotham IC Junior Series for 10-and-under and 12-and-under boys and girls started at the Albany Tennis Academy in southwestern New Providence. This time there was a double dose of good news as not only are the numbers continuing to grow in terms of participation, but the organizers also noted a real increase in performance from the juniors participating. Almost 40 young athletes participated this time around.
The series, designed on a round-robin basis where there is no elimination, is aimed to grow tennis among these critical young age groups by giving all the participants at least three, and usually four matches over a single weekend. The juniors are encouraged to make friends, build camaraderie and work together to improve their skills which is important at such a young age. Although it is fun to win, there is strong emphasis on development and enjoyment. The juniors were given lunch each day so they could stay on site, get to know each other and help build a tennis community.
On Saturday, all players were in initial round-robin groups, then on Sunday morning they went into “playoff” groups with respective opposite numbers from the Saturday groups for their age and sex. This way those who won their matches on Saturday met others who also won their matches on Saturday, giving greater competition on Sunday. In the other groups, those juniors who lost some matches on Saturday began to win more matches as playing others close to their own level enabled them to gain some confidence.
Most of the top final groups on Sunday resulted in some really close and great matches contested in good spirit with many going to a third set tiebreak to produce a winner – good competition and experience for them all.
In the 12-and-under boys finals, there were three very close matches between Jerald Carroll from Freeport, Grand Bahama, and Jackson Mactaggart and Khai Rees from New Providence. This time, Carroll came through as the winner but only after some tiebreak sets with Mactaggart.
The 12-and-under girls winner was Sierra Rogers who overcame Breann Ferguson.
In the 10-and-under boys category, there was a great finals match between Jack Boals and Alec Hooper. Both had match points before Boals emerged as the winner.
In the 10-and-under girls category, Millie Beukes once again was the winner but this time was pushed to the limit including a very close match against a much improved Sarai Clarke. Clarke is the younger sister of top Bahamian junior female tennis player Sydney Clarke who was on hand watching her sister. Another top Bahamian junior Jacobi Bain was present as well, watching and helping, while his father Bradley Bain served as a referee. Both Sydney Clarke and Jacobi Bain are on tennis scholarships at the Albany Academy.
The Charlie Farrington Sportsmanship Award went to Jack Boals which he said he was proud of as it is in memory of his grandfather and was donated by his family in Farrington’s memory. The girls sportsmanship award went to young Tatyana Madu.
Organizer Neil Mactaggart expressed his delight at the way this event has grown and with the juniors and their parents who, with only a few exceptions, have shown a great attitude and willingness to work together to help grow the game for everyone. Mactaggart said that the skills and performances of the juniors have shown considerable improvement from the start of the Winterbotham IC Junior Series just over a year ago.
IC President Kit Spencer, also part of the organizing committee, expressed thanks to the Albany Tennis Academy who provided the courts and to Winterbotham Trust for sponsoring the series which is doing a great job of developing tennis in the young age groups.
This was the second event of its kind this year with the first event in January at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) National Tennis Centre. The Winterbotham IC Junior Series continues with the ‘International Event’ at Baha Mar on the weekend of May 24-25 at which some top overseas juniors in theses age groups are expected to come to The Bahamas. The event increases the experience for young Bahamian players without the high cost of going to overseas tournaments.
The fourth event in the series will be in Freeport in November with a probable top player finals event in December.
For more information on the International Tennis Clubs (IC) worldwide organization, interested persons are asked to visit the website www.ictennis.net.