Cayman’s band of junior tennis players are warming up for this year’s second PwC open junior tournament this weekend.
One rising court star is Harrison Clough, who, despite being only 11, was crowned Cayman Islands 14&U national champion three months ago.
The Cayman public got a chance to admire the lanky kid’s smooth ground strokes and intelligent point construction last month in a junior exhibition match at the Legends tournament.
Clough, son of Dr. Ginny Hobday and pilot Richard Clough, made a notable start to competitive tennis in 2015 when he played in the 18&U division of the first PwC tournament, coming in a highly respectable third behind the powerful duo of 16-year-old Daniel Reid, 2014’s 18&U national champion, and Callum Theaker, 14, winner of 2014’s PwC 18&U Masters Championships.
A Year 7 Cayman Prep pupil, Clough is coached at the Cayman Islands Tennis Club, principally by pro Dale Avery, and is also a long-time member of the elite squad. The squad, which consists of the top juniors from all age groups, trains at the tennis club under Avery.
“I’m taking my tennis seriously, I’m looking to be a professional if possible,” said Clough.
“My ambition is to win all four Grand Slams. At the moment, I’m working towards getting a tennis scholarship.
“I’d like to go to the U.S., but anywhere that has a really good academy would be fine. I’d like to go at 14. I am going to keep training and traveling to overseas tournaments.”
He is going to tournaments in Jamaica and Florida this year but is out of this weekend’s tournament after sustaining a shoulder injury playing rugby. Clough added: “Dale’s been teaching me since I was really small, he’s my main coach and he’s taken me a long way.”
An all-rounder, Clough is also a keen golfer, with a handicap of 8 over 18 holes, and represents Cayman in junior rugby.
Another youngster who continues to shine is Jack Lomax, who has made winning a serious habit.
Lomax, who is only just 10, claimed the 12&U national champion title in 2014. He looks set for another year of domination, having cruised to victory in January’s first PwC tournament without dropping a set.
Twelve players in total competed in Lomax’s 12&U age group in that tournament, with Alex Claybourn, 11, runner-up and 10-year-old Oskar Bjuro third.
Reid, Theaker and 14-year-old Jade Wilkinson have enjoyed some success in regional tournaments.
And they are not only the islands’ best juniors – they are some of Cayman’s best players, with national adult tournament wins and titles to prove it.
Theaker, of St. Ignatius Catholic School and Cayman Prep pupil Reid, will again battle for supremacy in the 18&U section this year.
While Reid won more matches on the PwC junior circuit in 2014, Theaker had a good start to 2015, beating Reid in an exciting three-set final in the January tournament to establish an early rankings lead over his archrival.
Cayman will lose Reid as a regular player this autumn when he starts school abroad.
There will be a total of six PwC tournaments this year, including a Masters Championships for the eight top-ranked players in each age group.
The PwC tournaments, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, are administered by the TFCI with the help of local pros.
Dates, entry forms and other information can be found on the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands’ website, www.tfci.ky.