Callum Theaker has finally proved beyond doubt what his coaches have suspected for some time – that he is one of the top tennis players in the Caribbean in his age group.
He may only be 11 but Theaker emerged triumphant in the Blue Mountain Caribbean Junior Tennis Championships in Jamaica last month, comfortably winning the 12-and-under final against the top seed.
The Kingston tournament attracted the leading juniors from Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the standard of play was “pretty high”, confirmed Cayman Islands Tennis Club manager and coach, Rob Seward who managed the Cayman team at the tournament.
Theaker, a pupil at St. Ignatius, was the No.2 seed in the 12-and-under section of the week-long tournament. He comfortably reached the final where he met the No.1 seed, Jamaican Damani Cain, winning 6-0,6-2.. Seward said: “Cain was a counter puncher, but Cal was well prepared and you could tell that he was going to take control early on.
“A couple of times in the second set, the match could have swung the other way, but Callum won two big points at deuce, taking those games and thereby keeping his confidence up, which really helped him.”
Cayman’s 11-and-under national champion last year, Theaker also played in the 14-and-under competition in Jamaica, where he was the losing finalist in the consolation draw. “I think Callum would have won that match if he had not been so excited about playing in the 12-and-under final the next day,” said Seward.
Theaker admitted he was worried about the level of play going into the tournament, but then after wins in his first few matches, “I felt great,” he said, adding, “I learned that it does not matter how tall or small your opponent is, what matters is the tennis – and you need to concentrate on playing your best.”
Another of Cayman’s top juniors, Daniel Reid, 13, was there. He did extremely well, reaching the semis in the 14-and-unders. In the quarters, noted Seward, Reid played the No.4 seed, Luke Roberts, winning 6-4,6-3. “This was a good win. Daniel was down 3-0 in the second set but then settled down and made a comeback.”
Reid’s opponent in the semis was Jean Philippe Murray of St. Lucia, who beat the No.2 seed in the first round. “Daniel had a great match, eventually going down 7-6, 6-0. He played well and knows he could have won,” added Seward.
Competing in the 16-and-unders, Reid came unstuck in the second round against a much more experienced player. He really enjoyed the Jamaica experience, Reid said: “There was a different style of play for different islands, as the coaches teach differently, so it was interesting to play these people.”