Reid’s tenacity pays dividends

Loads of practice and self-belief paid off for Marc Reid when he took out Alex Leonard in the final of the latest PwC junior tennis tournament.

Reid, 16, who long played second fiddle to Leonard and 2010’s under-17 Cayman champion, Morgan Hayward, has come into his own in the past six months and beaten both for the first time.

Reid inflicted his 2-1 sets defeat over power player Leonard at the PwC tournament on 8-9 May, the points from which now put him in top position in the 18-and-under rankings.

He also dismissed Hayward earlier in the tournament with an unequivocal 6-1 victory.

It was a great moment for Cayman Prep student Reid, who has always impressed his coaches by his hours of court practice and his determination.

Tennis club coach Dale Avery, who has trained the top junior squad weekly since November, is impressed that Reid and his brother Daniel have never missed a training session and have never been late, reflecting their exceptional attitude.

Reid builds his game around good technique, on-court intelligence and consistency. “Marc is working hard on all areas of his game — technical, physical, tactical and mental — to become a complete tennis player in preparation for the demands of college tennis,” said Avery.

The impressive performance of Nicholas Polloni, 10, was another talking point of the tournament, held at the Ritz-Carlton. Polloni, who can barely see over a tennis net, was taken out of the 11-and-under age group, where he dominates, and put in the 14-and-under section.

There, he proceeded to astonish the crowd by reaching the finals, on his way beating Daniel Reid, the number-one 14-and-under player, 4-3. Reid recovered his composure, however, and in the final came back to beat Polloni 6-3, 6-2.

Simon Butler and Josh Bolland were also strong performers in this age group, reaching the semis, where Butler narrowly lost out to Reid with a 7-6 score.

Fifteen players – a big field – did battle in the tournament’s 11-and-under section. But it was St. Ignatius pupil Callum Theaker, 10, who eventually emerged the victor, beating James Priaulx 6-2,7-5 in the final.

Priaulx fought off a challenge from circuit newcomer Will Roberts 6-4 in one semi-final, while Theaker romped past Reese Hoeksema 6-2 in the other semi.

Theaker’s win was not unexpected. He is part of the 12-strong top junior squad (known as the Elite squad) which trains under Avery. Avery is pleased that Theaker is now officially ranked number one in his age group.

“Callum’s happy just to keep improving, that’s what he says, but he’ll be pleased to be top of the league,” said Callum’s father Steve Theaker.

“He plays a lot, maybe eight hours a week. It’s hard to drag him away from the tennis club. He’s in the Elite squad and he loves it, he was over the moon to get in there.

“This is a big thing for him. He really looks up to the older boys like Alex Leonard and Marc Reid and they are excellent with the younger kids, really good with them. And Dale has also been inspirational – Callum has gone from enjoying tennis to being really keen.”

The PricewaterhouseCoopers junior tennis circuit is organised by the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands, with the support and help of local coaches. Any child is welcome to play in PwC junior tournaments.

There will be a total of seven tournaments in 2011. The Elite squad also runs under the aegis of the tennis federation. Squad training is free of charge. Players must be invited to join the squad by the federation.

The next PwC junior tournament is at the tennis club on South Sound on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June.