A tennis court smack in the middle of a residential area in Prospect is not the sort of place you expect to find some of Cayman’s best juniors practicing, yet they love it.
Former Cayman Islands Tennis Club coach Eduardo Torres recently left the club to branch out on his own and ended up there, the home of Edward and Carol Bodden, whose son Edward Jr, 11, is one of Torres’s star pupils.
‘I’ve been working a lot on individual kids and at different locations around the island, but my main ambition is to work with these juniors and build up a national team,’ says Torres a former pro from Mexico.
‘I have a very good programme for Eddie to play in tournaments. We’ve just come back from Calgary, Canada. I went to play in a tournament and got to the semi-finals and Eddie came too and did a lot of training and matches in the evenings. He was very positive.’
Torres is excited for his other charges, including Patricia Villarroel, his daughter Kayla Torres, Marc Reid, Ismaeel Hussain, James Feitelberg, Tyler Bell and Bethany Cleaver who is also a very good swimmer.
Bodden is as good at this age as Panav Jha, 16, Torres reckons. Brilliant Jha is on a big tennis scholarship in Canada and has high hopes to eventually turning pro.
‘When Panav was 11 that’s when he started playing good tennis and Eddie is exactly the same way,’ Torres says. ‘I think Eddie has more talent. He has the focus and can deal with the responsibility to train hard.
‘Marc is coming on very strong since he left the tennis club. The others who have left the club are coming on well too. The technique they use with me is very different. I teach them to a higher level.’
By the end of the year, Torres hopes to have brand new facilities at his own Cayman Islands National Tennis Centre at Grand Harbour. Torres is investing some of his own money and has investors lined up.
In the meantime, they’ll continue using the Bodden court. ‘Eddie and Carol have been very nice to me and the kids have also been hard working and positive. They’ve improved immensely in the last two months.
‘I’m playing to take them to Miami in the summer and trying to raise some funds and sponsorship for that.’
Kayla, 13, has got her dad’s sporting genes. ‘She plays three or four times a week which isn’t as much as the other kids but is very good and has a great talent.
‘I hope to get her into a college in the US. She likes to do acting as well. I guess for her to achieve those goals she has to get a tennis scholarship first and then move on to whatever she wants to do.’
Carol Bodden is a doting mum who had no qualms about allowing Torres to base at her house for a while. ‘Whatever they’re interested in, as parents we have go along with them and support them,’ she says.
‘It’s no good putting them into programmes and then after a while they back out because of no support. This helps give them goals, there’s a lot of future in sports.
‘His father plays tennis and wanted to become a professional. This court is his father’s dream.
‘Growing up he couldn’t use courts and he always wanted a court of his own. We actually had the tennis court before the house!
‘When we got the land, he insisted on building the court first, then we built the house. We stayed next door at my sister’s initially.
‘Eddie’s developing well. Coach is pleased with him. That trip to Calgary helped a lot. He picked up a lot of things for his technique so he’s putting it into practice now.
‘Hopefully, we’ll see a young Arthur Ashe pretty soon in the Cayman Islands.’