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Pros Like 'Promise' Shown By Jamaica's Juniors
Adrian Frater, News Editor
Former Association of Tennis Professionals star, the United States' Taylor Dent, and internationally renowned tennis instructor Bill Riddle think that based on their natural athleticism and enthusiasm, a number of the junior players on the local tennis circuit could become major stars.
"I saw a lot of energy, enthusiasm and promise in some of the kids, and with the right guidance I am sure some of them will become great tennis players," said Dent, a four-time ATP singles champion who has had the distinction of defeating current star Andy Roddick.
Dent, his wife, six-time International Tennis Federation winner Jennifer Hopkins; Australia's multiple grand slam winners Owen Davidson, Jan Michael Gambill, who was once ranked 14th in the world, and Riddle all participated in Tuesday's Legends of Tennis clinic at the Tryall Club in Hanover, which attracted 50 juniors and 40 adults.
"I saw several youngsters, especially the girls, demonstrating a lot of promise," said Riddle, who is one of the most highly rated tennis instructors in the world. "They were very strong, had good strokes and I feel that if we can continue to do more events like this and give the kids an opportunity to participate, we could see some very good players coming out of Jamaica in the future."
Promising 15-year-old Shaddae Findley, who won the girls Under-18 title at the recent Pan Caribbean Junior Tennis Tournament, was thrilled with the clinic, arguing that while it was relatively short, she benefited tremendously.
"I learnt a lot in terms of serve and volley and the other basic skills," said Findlay, a student of Montego Bay High School. "I am sure the tips I got will help me in my quest to become a professional player in the future."
The pros did not only share their know-ledge of the game, but also showed what they could do on court in a few exhibition matches, which saw them getting rave reviews from the organisers and players.
In a high-energy doubles match, Gambill and Davidson teamed up to defeat Dent and Hopkins 13-10 in a matchup that was played in a tiebreak format. In the second exhibition game, one set, Dent defeated Gambill 6-4.
The Legends of Tennis Event, which is in its 16th year, is designed to help develop promising youngster in tennis.
This year's event was dubbed the 'Edgar Cullman Legends of Tennis Event' in tribute to the life of the late Edgar Cullman, who contributed greatly not only to tennis, but to the country's development on a whole.