Leonard was smashing

The underdogs had their day at a
recent PwC junior circuit tennis tournament.

It was held at the Ritz-Carlton
tennis court. Seventh seed Nicholas Leonard’s hard-won triumph over third seed
Nicholas Polloni for the 10-and-under trophy was hot news, while the second
major upset came from Luca Polloni, who hit the spotlight with a surprise win
over the formerly invincible William Hayward in the 13-and-under division.

Leonard and Nicholas Polloni’s
final was extremely close. They went to set-all, and then played a 10-point
tie-break in lieu of a third set.

Polloni, aged nine, was up 9-8, but
Leonard, 11, held his nerve and took the next three points to clinch the win at
11-9.

Cayman Prep student Leonard said: “I’ve
never even got to the semi-finals before, or the finals, in a junior circuit
tournament, so when I won I was feeling pretty surprised.

“When I look at my trophy, it
reminds me when that when I am trying to do something difficult, I should keep
trying, that I can win against the odds.

“I believe now that if I keep
working at my tennis I can win again. Yes, I am motivated now, I am proud of
myself!”

Semi-finalists in the 10-and-under
division were Matteo Polloni, and James Green, both 11.

Rob Seward, manager at the Cayman
Islands Tennis Club and coach to many of the younger tournament players, said:
“Nicholas Leonard was ranked seventh going into this tournament, he made it
into the semi-finals and then went on to beat the third seed, so that was a
huge upset.

“He had a very close game with
Polloni. It was a consistent match, both boys played very carefully.

“Leonard’s win shows just how good
these Tennis Federation tournaments are for the kids. We now have a situation
where the top eight children in the 10-and-under division could win a
tournament at any time.

“The tournaments are helping out
the kids a ton. I see more dedication, the kids are learning that tennis is
more than just hacking about, it’s a sport for competing, and competing is
great for the kids.”

Luca Polloni, 13, who has been
playing tennis since he was three, was happy with his first-time victory over
William Hayward. Hayward has dominated the 13-and-under division throughout the
2009-10 season.

“In the final,” Polloni said. “I
think we both played pretty good. I just kept my concentration. Some points he
played better and some I did. I was really excited to beat him. My ambition was
to play my best, I never really expected to beat him.”

Hayward won the first set 6-3, and
Polloni took the second 7-6. In the tie-break, Polloni, who is coached at the
Ritz, prevailed with a 10-7 win. 

“Luca’s win did surprise me, as
William Hayward is the long-time favourite,” said Seward. “He’s been pretty
much untouched in the 13-and-under division. 

“William beat Simon Butler in the
semis; it was a close match, but William scraped through, while Luca had a
reasonably close match against Daniel Reid in the other semi. Luca had a good
tournament, he definitely has the talent.”

Seward commended Simon Butler, Sami
Lang and Josh Bolland for their strong performances in the 13-and-under
competition.

In the 16-and-under division,
Nicholas Leonard’s older brother, Alex, defeated William Hayward’s older
brother, Morgan, in a hard-hitting, close-fought final. The long-time rivals
went to set-all (6-4, 1-6), with Leonard prevailing 10-7 in the third-set
10-point tie-break.

Marc Reid, the third-ranked player
in the 16-and-under division, produced some great tennis in his semi-final
against Morgan Hayward, eventually losing out 6-8 in a first-to-eight-games
match. Leonard posted a comfortable win over Chris Courtis in his
semi-final. 

For Kabir Chandi and his sister
Sheline, who played in the 10-and-under and 16-and-under divisions
respectively, this was their first tournament.

“It’s great to see kids enter a
tournament for the first time; it was a good experience for them,” said Seward.

The junior tennis circuit is run by
the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands, in co-operation with local tennis
coaches at the Ritz-Carlton, the CI Tennis Club and Torres Top Tennis.

The gold sponsor is PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
The circuit is popular with players as well as coaches.

Nicholas Leonard said: “These
tournaments have made tennis a lot more interesting. They inspire me to work
harder in my lessons.”

For more information on junior
tennis, go to: http://tennisfederationcayman.blogspot.com/ and

http://www.caymanjuniortenniscircuit.blogspot.com/

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Leonard had a great tournament.
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