Novices had a smashing time

Two promising young tennis players,
neither of whom had ever picked up a tennis racket until a few months ago, are
receiving free private coaching thanks to the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands.

The talents of Nip Perera, 12, of
Triple C school, and Isaiah Robinson, age 10, of George Town Primary, were
spotted by local professional coaches as they took part in free community
tennis sessions held over the past nine months. Those six sessions, known as
Play and Stay, were sponsored by local law firm Walkers and co-ordinated by the
tennis federation.

“Isaiah has improved considerably,
especially on the technical side, since joining our junior tennis programme in
May,” said Thomas Neuert, Isaiah’s coach and top pro at the Ritz-Carlton.
Isaiah trains with Neuert in shared lessons with other local junior players
twice a week during term-time.  “Isaiah
is always on time, loves to work hard and enjoys the game of tennis. His
athletic ability is second to none: he is extremely fast on the court, has good
hand-eye coordination and is a quick learner. I like to call him the Cayman
Islands’ version of Usain Bolt.”

Overall, adds Neuert, Isaiah has
great potential to be a top Cayman Islands player and possibly a strong
regional player too. “If Isaiah puts time into the sport and finds ways to play
almost daily, then I know he will improve and my plan for him would be to put
him in our advanced group with the island’s top juniors like Nicki and Matteo
Polloni and Josh Bolland, by January 2011.” 
Besides tennis, Isaiah is also an active squash, cricket and football

Perera, who hails from Spotts,
attended many of the 2009-10 Play and Stay tennis sessions. She loves sports,
says her mum, Mayuri Perera. “She plays badminton at school, and knocks up
during junior sessions at the squash club on Saturdays, so she’s delighted to
have this opportunity to train in a racquet sport.” So far, Nip has had several
lessons with Dale Avery, a pro at the Tennis Club in South Sound, which have gone
really well, says Mayuri. Nip shares her lessons with her sister, Dinara.

“Nip has a good eye for the ball
and is determined to improve her game,” says Avery. “She is getting stronger,
which will help with her big forehand.”

Mrs. Perera adds that she and her
husband, Indika, are looking to establish a group lesson for Nip with her
friends in September. “Getting these two young people started with free lessons
is a big step forward for the TFCI,” said the TFCI’s deputy head, Jeremy
Superfine. “One of the federation’s goals is to give every Cayman child a
chance to try their hand at tennis, and to offer coaching to those who have
good potential and want to train.

“It’s good to see Nip doing so
well. Wheelchair tennis is actually a professional sport and we hope to
eventually develop a wheelchair tennis programme.”