Five of Guyana’s junior tennis players will be selected by the Guyana Tennis Association to compete at the internationally renowned annual 16-and-under Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup tennis tournaments to be held in the Dominican Republic next month.
Two girls and three boys will be attending the tournaments which will run from March 16 – 24.
Nicola Ramdyhan and Aretta Dey have been named as the two girls to attend while four boys – Gavin Lewis, Daniel Lopes, Judah Stephney, and Khalif Gobin – are currently in training to earn a place to participate in the competition.
The players are currently undergoing preparatory training with national coach Shelly Daly-Ramdyhan, practicing at the courts of the National Racquet Centre and the Pegasus Hotel.
This will be the first time Guyana will be in this competition and replaces the country’s regular participation in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) under-14 World Junior Tennis (WJT) tournament, which Guyanese players have attended for the past two years.
With only two of the players in the under-14 category, Ramdyhan explained, the under-16 tournament provided a better opportunity for more players to participate.
The Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup are 16-and- under team events, with the Davis Cup being for the male side while the Fed Cup is for the females. The competitions are the junior equivalents of the premier international team events of the same names. Countries are grouped and will play in a round robin format to qualify to advance to the knockout round.
All seven national players are repeat features from one or more ITF tournaments that Guyana has attended in the past two years, during the Guyana Tennis Association venture to develop the skills of their junior players.
However, with the exception of Lewis, who played in the under-18 category in a circuit tournament last year, this will be the first time that the players will be playing outside the under-14 category at an international tournament.
According to Ramdyhan, she still expect the players to demonstrate the years of experience that they have attained when they get out on the court, while her main focus now is to get them fully prepared and ready.
In the meantime, the weather is playing its part in dampening the training schedule, but Ramdyhan said the players are making the sacrifice to practice whenever or wherever is available, despite their academic demands.
“According to our schedule that we have from the 14th January we haven’t been able to do much because of the inclement weather. Our preparation should have started in December but because of the weather, nevertheless we are trying to put in as much practice during the week because of the time we have remaining, so the players are really making the sacrifice to put in the hours in the evening, thanks to Pegasus. We practice anyway we can get to do some playing, but we’re very grateful to Pegasus because of the lights, because Non Pariel doesn’t have lights,” the ITF Level Two coach said.
“When it comes to preparing a team I want to give it all I can. When we get out there most of the players are experienced now to know what it entails, but this is new for them in terms of the age category they’ve never played under-16 before. Gavin played under-18 in a circuit tournament last year, but this is a team event so you’re playing all week, this is not like a tournament Gavin played where you lose one match and you’re out the tournament. You play all week and you play every country in your group to qualify for the next round and then you play for a position at the end so it’s all week you’re not resting, probably you’ll get a half day rest depending on your performance and they are accustomed to that but I’m trying to get them back into that mode so that when they get out there they’re not tired,” she explained.
Finally, the players are expected to gain from time they will have with ITF Development Officer of the English-speaking Caribbean, Anthony Jeremiah, who will be here from March 8, according to Ramdyhan.
“We’ll have Anthony Jeremiah here from the 8th March and so he will be spending some time with the team which I am grateful for, and which the Tennis Association is grateful for so we’re going to use that time to step up what they are lacking in. They all have their work cut out for them, they know what their weaknesses are and I’ve identified that to each one of them individually. I think they’re getting there mentally and we hope that in the next month we’re able to push in as much work [as possible],” Ramdyhan added.