We’re ready for Caribbean aces

The inaugural Caribbean Games run next month and the Cayman tennis team will have a smashing time, whatever happens.

David Berry and Nikhil Jha will do battle on Cayman’s behalf in Trinidad from July 12-19.

And although they are not medal favourites, will give a good account nevertheless.

Berry, 43, is by far the most experienced of the two. He has been playing since the age of five when coached by the venerable Frank Wilde in Highgate, London. Wilde was a top British player in his hey-day.

Berry was Cayman’s top player for two decades from the age of 14, gaining a college scholarship and being world ranked even in his 30s and early 40s.

He didn’t quite make it as a pro but had a lot of fun along the way, competing in many tournaments in the Caribbean and Americas.

‘As long as I’m pain free and can still work out in the gym, I’ll carry on playing,’ Berry said.

He puts his high level of fitness down to following a virtually vegetarian diet and also maintaining a disciplined fitness regime.

‘I gave up football at 14 to concentrate on tennis. I love being in an individual sport. You’re in total control of your destiny and don’t have to rely on others.

‘I haven’t played in a tournament in the Caribbean for a long time but I’m ready to go and compete and have good energy.’

Jha, 21, only finished law school a month ago. He hopes to become a corporate lawyer soon. Nikhil is the older brother of teenage tennis star Panav.

Nikhil, three-and-a-half years older, didn’t take it as seriously as Panav who is now on a tennis scholarship with the Canada national team and hopes to become a pro soon.

Tennis as a career did not appeal to Nikhil but he still thoroughly enjoys it. ‘Tennis-wise I just wanted to have fun. I’ll be going to the Island Games in Aland next week and we expect to get medals there but competition will be a lot stiffer at the Caribbean Games where there’ll be the likes of Jamaica and Cuba.

‘I’m in good shape and it’s just a case of getting my cardio up now. Panav was here during spring break and gave me some tips. He’s playing in tournaments in Morocco at the moment.’

Panav is slightly taller and bigger than Nikhil who admits: ‘When Panav was 14 he started beating me and I was sour but I’m okay with it now.’

Team manager Robert Hale is upbeat. ‘I’m optimistic that we’ll get a good draw. This is an inexperienced team but going out there to participate is most important.

‘We’ll give it a good go because it’s important that we’ll be invited back and demonstrate that the Cayman Islands has good players.’