Juniors showed smashing style

All did not go wholly as predicted at the 2012 PwC Junior Tennis Circuit Masters finals.

James Priaulx, long ranked number two in the 12&Under division, triumphed against his arch rival and national 12&U No.1, John-Ross Clough, to lift the winner’s trophy last month at the Ritz-Carlton courts.

And in the same division, Jonah Narborough, who only took up tennis seriously a year ago, showed huge promise when he narrowly lost to Matthew Barnett, the 12&U No.3, in the play-off for third place, and also seriously rattled Clough before succumbing 3-4 in an earlier round.

Priaulx, 12, and Clough, 11, had a see-saw final, with Priaulx holding his nerve for a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 win. Despite the defeat, Clough nevertheless easily hung onto his overall points lead accumulated during the year’s seven PwC tournaments to secure the title of 2012 12&Under Champion.

He took part in six PwC tournaments, won 25 matches and lost only four, while Priaulx, 2012’s runner-up, played five tournaments, won 17 matches and lost six.

There were no surprises in the 10&Under division. Bobby Lomax, who has enjoyed an iron grip on the No.1 ranking in his age group, powered his way to another victory in the Masters, taking out Harrison Clough 6-4, 6-2 in the final to secure the trophy.

Lomax, 10, also scooped the title of PwC 10&Under 2012 Champion, having won all 35 of his matches in seven tournaments he played this year.

Harrison finished the year ranked No.2, Calum Lindsay No.3 and Bobby’s younger brother Jack, who has just turned eight, an impressive No. 4. A total of 18 players took part in this age division in 2012, so competition was tough.

Cayman’s top14&Under player Daniel Reid unfortunately had to miss the Masters tournament, leaving the way for his closest rival, Callum Theaker, to sweep the field.

St. Ignatius pupil Theaker, 12, one of the circuit’s hard-working players, dropped only three games on his way to the final, where he met a steadily improving Nicholas Leonard.

Leonard, 13, put up a good fight, eventually succumbing 6-4, 6-2. Losing semi-finalists were Matteo and Nicholas Polloni.

Despite missing the Masters, Reid, whose impressive consistency derives from practising seven days a week, was still awarded the PwC 14&U 2012 Champion title, having not lost a junior circuit match this year. Theaker finished the year ranked no.2, Leonard 3, and Nicholas Polloni 4.

Reid has just put another large feather in his cap: he won in the first round of the Orange Bowl junior tennis championship just before Christmas.

The Orange Bowl is the USA’s top junior event, and one of the world’s leading junior tournaments, drawing players from Asia and Europe as well as The Americas.

Rob Seward is the Cayman Islands Tennis Club manager and chief coach. He said of the overall 2012 junior circuit performances he and fellow coaches Adam Bayley and Dale Avery were “very proud” of all their juniors.

They had “performed well all year in the PwC events”.

Seward added: “It is fantastic for us to see the level of junior tennis rise, and we look forward to the future with our juniors competing in the next level.

“The club had two juniors compete in the Orange Bowl, Daniel Reid and Callum Theaker, which is a great exposure for tennis in the Cayman Islands and we look forward to the possibility of getting more of our juniors to participate in such known tournaments.”

Cayman’s junior tennis circuit is run by the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands. “This has been an excellent year for the PwC circuit, we’ve had another record year in terms of the number of children entered for tournaments,” said federation president Jeremy Superfine. He thanked all the local pros who hosted and ran PwC events in 2012, as well as sponsor PricewaterhouseCoopers and TFCI board members, whose behind-the-scenes work contributed to the circuit’s success.