Jade Wilkinson showed that she is improving rapidly by reaching the finals of the PwC junior tennis tournament at the Ritz-Carlton last weekend.
Cayman Prep pupil Wilkinson, only 13, who trains at the Tennis Club in South Sound with Adam Bayley, won a tough semi-final with one of the top players in the 18&U age group, Nicholas Leonard, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Wilkinson, whose steady improvement over the last few months was reflected in her No.2 seeding, went on to clash in the final with 16-year-old Daniel Reid.
He is not only Cayman’s top junior but also one of the most accomplished players on the island, so the challenge was considerable.
Wilkinson kept her head, however, and refused to be intimidated, emerging with a 0-6, 2-6 loss.
“There were lots of deuce points and Jade accomplished her goal, which was to keep the ball deep,” said her mother LaRene Wilkinson.
For his part, with this latest win under his belt, Reid has reinforced his No.1 18&U ranking.
Callum Lindsay, his chief rival, missed the tournament through injury. Leonard claimed third place with a win over Kabir Chandi, 6-3, 6-1.
Spectators at Sunday’s finals were treated to a humdinger of a match between Bobby Lomax and Nicholas Polloni in the 14&U division. Polloni, at 13, is two years older than Lomax and more experienced and has barely ever lost a match to anyone his age.
Lomax brought his admirable determination and considerable skills to the match, plus the confidence that accompanies having been the top-ranked 10&U and 12&U player in the past.
The first set went to Lomax, 6-1, but Polloni managed to pick up his game and snaffled the second set 7-6. Battling Lomax emerged triumphant in the tense deciding 10-point tie-break.
Harrison Clough, 11, widely regarded as one of the most talented players on the PwC junior circuit, claimed third place in the 14&U division with a 6-4, 6-0 win over his older brother, John-Ross.
Harrison came close to defeating Polloni in the semi-finals. Their score was 6-2, 2-6, 10-5. And John-Ross did well in his semi against Lomax, with a 6-2, 7-5 score. There was another impressive battle in the 12&U division final; top seed Jack Lomax met No.2 seed Lauren Fullerton.
Lomax took the first set with a comfortable 6-3, but Fullerton refused to back off and came back to breeze through the second set 6-2. With a set apiece, the tie-break went 10-5 to Lomax.
Neildeep Gosh claimed third place with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Alex Claybourn.
No.1 seed Oskar Bjuro faced No.2 seed Caden Stradling in the 10&U final. Bjuro, who is long on ambition and enthusiasm, dominated in the first set, taking it 6-1, but Stradling found his feet in the second and made Bjuro fight for every point before finally succumbing 7-5.
Stradling also had a close match with Oskar’s younger brother Sebastian, only 7, in their semi-final. Stradling cruised through the first set 6-0, but Sebastian showed commendable mettle in the second by taking it to a tie-break.
The next PwC circuit tournament, the fourth in 2014, will be held at the Tennis Club on Oct. 4-5.
The circuit is run by the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands, with the help of Cayman tennis pros, and sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers.