APPROXIMATELY 200 players from 28 countries throughout the world will be competing in the ITF (International Tennis Federation) Junior Tournament in Trinidad from Saturday.
There will be action in two categories, with the under-14s doing battle at Trinidad Country Club, Maraval, and the under-18s squaring off at Eddie Taylor Public Courts, King George V Park, St Clair.
The tournament was officially launched yesterday at the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT), Henry Street, Port of Spain. A grand total of 67 players—37 girls and 30 boys—in the under-18 division possess world junior rankings.
The highest ranked player in the tournament will be Vera Aleshcheva, a 15-year-old Russian who is listed at #244 in the world in juniors.
Four other females are ranked in the top 500, including three-time defending Tranquillity Open champ Breana Stampfli, who has a ranking of #489 and is fifth on the list.
Kandis Legall, an American of local roots who has been representing T&T for the last few months, has dropped about 400 places on the ladder and is the 18th highest on the list at No #857. Tobagonian Kezia Koroma has a ranking of #1,182 and the other ranked local females are Amanda Soo Ping Chow and Dominique Countain, who are both listed at #1,710.
Joshua Abraham is the highest-ranked local on the list of males, but the national under-18 champ is only #1,400 in the world and finds himself behind 15 others. Abraham's twin brother Ty is 21st on the list with a ranking of #1,487, while the other T&T boys with world junior rankings are Scott Lanser and Elan Mendes, both listed at #1,795.
The Tobagonian Mendes is representing the country in regional pre-qualifying for the Junior Davis Cup this week in El Salvador. Jelani Davidson and Nabeel Mohammed, the other members of the team, are also expected to be among the key local players..
Arturs Lazdins is at the top of the male list, but the Latvian is only nine places higher on the computer than the 332nd-ranked Robbie Ridout of Great Britain.
There will be boys' and girls' singles qualifying on Saturday and Sunday and the main draws will serve off on Monday. The under-14 players will also begin main-draw action on Monday after being involved in round-robin groups over the two days before. Emma-Rose Trestrail, Emma Davis, Scott Hackshaw and Ryan Thomas are among T&T's under-14 players.
Addressing the gathering were Tennis Association of Trinidad and Tobago president Jermille Danclar, Anthony Jeremiah, the ITF Development Officer for this region, tournament director Kyle Hannays and Megan Fojo Nothnagel, a sport service officer of the Sport Company.
Through a new sport tourism initiative, the Ministry of Tourism has contributed $50,000 and is the main sponsor, along with the Sport Company. HHSL Safety Systems will be responsible for the medical teams, while, Kiss Baking Company has donated the trophies, Blue Waters will provide water and tents and the Public Transport Service Corporation will take players to and from the venues.