Collegiate tennis players experience action on the court

Bahamian collegiate tennis players Sydney Clarke, Joshua Turnquest, Abigail Simms and Jacobi Bain were in action this past weekend for their respective schools.

Clarke and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers opened their 2021 fall season at the Mercer Gridiron Classic at the LeRoy Peddy Tennis Center in Macon, Georgia. The sophomore played in both singles and doubles but was a champion in the doubles. She fell in the quarterfinals in the singles.

In doubles, Clarke teamed up with Maggie White, and they finished unscathed with four wins and no losses. They saved their best performance, putting on a dominating 6-2 victory over Jacksonville State University’s Zuzana Pavelekova and Ella Tuomela in the final.

On their way to the final, Clarke and White took down Bea Acena and Urska Velec from Alabama State University, 6-4, in the first round. In the quarterfinal, they had an identical scoreline when they took down Savannah College of Arts and Design’s Yue Yu and Priya Sukkanha, and in their semifinal match, the UAB duo defeated East Tennessee State University’s Mayya Gorbunova and Maria Carva, also 6-4.

In singles, Clarke struggled a little, finishing with one win and two losses. She won her first match, 6-1 and 6-3, over Georgia College’s Emma Fleming. In her next match, she fell 3-6 and 3-6 to Sukkanha. The final singles match for her was a nail-biter. She went up against Jenna Dean of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers, and lost 5-7 and 6-7 (4-7).

Clarke not only performed well on the court but also performs well in the classroom, as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) highlights her, and the Blazers as a team, as members of its 2021 scholar-athletes and all-academic teams. To be named an ITA scholar-athlete, an athlete must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or above for the current academic year. Her team had a cumulative GPA of 3.78.

The Blazers return to action this weekend when they play at the Samford Hidden Duals held October 8-10 at the Samford Tennis Center in Birmingham, Alabama.

Turnquest had an impressive run this weekend, taking part in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) ITA Midwest Regional Tournament for the Indiana Wesleyan University Wildcats. The graduate student and his teammate Jeremias Rocco were crowned doubles champions. They received automatic bids to the ITA National Tournament set to take place in Rome, Georgia, October 14-17. The doubles title was one of five titles that the Wildcats won.

In the final on Saturday, Turnquest and Rocco had a tough time against the University of Northwestern Ohio’s Marcos Salazar and Malik Omarkhanov. They lost the first set 2-6 but willed their way to a dominating second set win, 6-1. They won the third set 10-8.

The Wildcats will return to action at the ITA Nationals.

Also at that tournament was the Indiana Tech Warriors’ Simms. She was in both singles and doubles matches. In doubles, Simms and partner Ana Gomez were able to make the quarterfinals. In that match, they fell 5-8 to the Wildcats’ Thais Mendez and Melanie Dveksler.

In singles, Simms advanced to the round of 32. In the round of 32, the Bahamian competed at a high level, but the Wildcats’ Breann Barger defeated her 5-7, 6-2 and 10-7.

Bain was on the court at the 2021 NAIA Gulf ITA Regional Championships that his team, the Xavier University Louisiana Gold, hosted. Bain, along with doubles partner Juan Ramirez, were the runners up in the men’s doubles competition.

The freshman and Ramirez went up against Daniil Klimov and Leo Bresson from William Carey. In the first set, the match was moved to another location due to rain. Bain and Ramirez were down 1-4 at that point. The Gold duo lost 2-6 and 3-6.

In singles, Bain faced Bresson in the quarterfinal round. Bain was defeated by Bresson, falling 4-6 and 2-6.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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