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Junior tennis players face off in all day tournament

KELSIE JOHNSON
Guardian Sports Reporter
kelsie@nasguard.com

Published: May 07, 2012

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Junior and youth tennis players got their first taste of an all day tournament on Saturday, when the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) hosted the Brajaxba Spring Classic.

The one-day event, designed to provide the younger players with more game and match experience, was held at the National Tennis Centre.  Five divisions were made available for the more than 20 tennis players who took full advantage of the event.  Taking the boys 14 crown was Jacobi Bain, who defeated Shawn Knowles 4-0 and 4-0.

Bain closed with a perfect win/loss record while Knowles dropped one match.  Also playing in the division were Kyle Cash and Henry Isben.  Sowmya Thottambeti won the girls 14 title after Sierra Donaldson retired in the second match.

On the full court Emma Weech stopped Daniel Clivio 4-1 and 4-2.  Both players had dropped a match before heading into the final show down.  The short court winner was Saket Pendharkar who defeated Luke Podlewski 5-3 and 4-1.

A perfect win/loss record lined Kathrine Giri up against Benjamin Sherman in the semifinal rounds.  Giri would send Sherman packing with an 11-7 and 11-8 win.  She moved onto play Saachi Pendharkar who defeated Dentry Mortimer, 11-9 and 11-7, in the second semifinal match.

Giri won the Mini-Tennis division with an 11-8 and 11-4 win over Pendharkar.  Players in the Mini-Tennis category were divided into two groups, Green and Blue.  Giri, Mortimer, Symillian Laroda and Alexis Neymour were in the Green group while Pendharkar, Sherman, Luka Benitti and Eve McCloud competed in the Blue Group.

“There were a number of kids who were playing in the tournament for the very first time.  They like the format, and the fact that it is round robin, that gave them a lot more matches to play,” said tournament organizer Bradley Bain

“There were some kids who play with normal balls on the regular.  Because of their age (in this tournament) they used the low compression balls.  I think they really enjoyed it.  They found out that they had more control and kept more balls in play.  When you have success keeping the balls in play, you tend to enjoy the game much more as opposed to not keeping it in play, and making a lot of mistakes and getting frustrated.

“Overall it was a great experience for the kids and again it is an opportunity for them to learn the game, not just hit balls but learn how to compete with kids who have similar skill levels.”

Bain is confident that the younger players will return to the court and play when the BLTA hosts more tournaments.  In fact, he revealed that the BLTA is in the process of launching its “Play and Stay” program which focuses on tennis players 10 years and under.  He said one-day tournaments will be held at least once a month, starting at the National Tennis Centre then branching out into the community.

Saturday’s event was the third to be held this year.  It is said to be the crowning moment for children participating in the development program, giving them an opportunity to display what they’ve learned.

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