The Bahamas’ number one junior female tennis player is headed to the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) in Birmingham, Alabama, in Fall 2020.
Sydney Clarke, 18, recently received her acceptance letter, and now, the only roadblock in her way is the uncertainty of regular class and school activities, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UAB Blazers finished a shortened 2020 season with 11 victories and an unblemished 8-0 home mark. They won eight in a row to end the season, six of which were shutouts, ending with one of the strongest finishes in program history. The Blazers compete out of Conference USA in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. Clarke is now poised to join that winning program.
Clarke enters the collegiate ranks after a stellar junior career in tennis. She has a career-high International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Juniors ranking of 261, and is now prepared to embark on what is anticipated to be a fruitful and productive senior career in tennis. Clarke is a former women’s national champion (2018), was the runner-up at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s (BLTA) Giorgio Baldacci National Open Championships last year and is a three-time Fed Cup team member for The Bahamas.
She has won numerous local and regional junior and senior titles – in both singles and doubles.
Clarke is one of the fastest rising sports stars in The Bahamas, and was honored for her success last year when she was named as the recipient of the Junior Female Athlete of The Year Award at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s National Sports Awards.
UAB Blazers Women’s Tennis Coach Mark Tjia said: “We are very excited to have Sydney join our Blazers family. Not only does she bring an impressive junior record with her, but more importantly, she comes with strong character and she emulates the same values that our team embraces.”
Clarke has six victories over American players currently in the top 100, according to tennisrecruiting.com, and has won three ITF singles and three ITF doubles titles.
AT UAB, Clarke will be majoring in Entrepreneurship with a minor in Broadcast Journalism. The young tennis sensation for The Bahamas said she wants to make her presence felt on and off the court – in academics, sports and community service.
Additionally, this year, Clarke and the rest of Team Bahamas were set to compete in the Americas Zone Group II Fed Cup Tournament in Panama City, Panama, in June. However, that event has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and no new date has been set as yet.
The other team members are National Champion Kerrie Cartwright, player/Coach Larikah Russell and Simone Pratt.
The BLTA extends well wishes to Clarke in her collegiate endeavors.
“We pray God’s blessings over you (Clarke). Continue to soar. If history is any indicator, we know you will shine,” said a BLTA spokesperson in a press statement.
With all tennis activities, and sports in general, up in the air because of the COVID-19 health crisis, there is no telling when everyday life will return to a state of normalcy. Already, some major universities in the United States have announced plans to continue online courses through the Fall 2020 semester and are cautious with the resumption of their sporting programs.
Up to press time, there were nearly 3.3 million cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide, and over 230,000 deaths. Here in The Bahamas there were 81 total cases and 11 deaths.