Exciting start to PwC Junior Tennis Circuit

Jake Booker won the 18-and-Under Division.

A total of 27 players, including a packed 14-and-Under field, opened serve on the 2018 PwC Junior Tennis Circuit as the Cayman Islands Tennis Club in South Sound last weekend (12-13 January).

However, the 10 and Under division featured a small pool of only four players, so a round robin format was used for that age group. Phin Ellison topped the group, winning all three of his matches. He said he enjoyed playing despite the hot conditions but chalked up his good run to being able to constantly run down the ball and make his shots.

Albert Berksoy, who won two of his matches was the 10 and Under runner-up. His only loss came against Ellison in a 6-2, 3-6, 10-7 encounter. Quin Small was the consolation winner and the new participant, Milana Thompson, had a great first tournament as this was her first time entering into the competition and played like a veteran, coaches said.

There were a whopping 17 players in the 14-and-Under division, one of the largest draws in the history of the PwC Circuit. Eventual winner, number two seed Willow Wilkinson, defeated Jake Fagan (6-2, 6-2), Grace Beighton (6-4, 6-3) to advance to the final against Sebastian Bjuroe. Wilkinson took the final in a close two sets 6-4, 7-5 and did not drop a set during the tournament. This was her first tournament win.

Ben Priaulx, moving up an age division from last year, took the consolation trophy in a fantastic match against Jay Jackson. Zack Jackson, ended up getting 3rd place as he defeated a tough competitor Rafael Wejbora.

The 18-and-Under division, Lauren Fullerton defeated Jake Lomax 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals, while Jake Booker beat last season’s 14-and-Under champion Jakub Neveril 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi-final to set up a rematch of the last final of 2017, which Booker won in straight sets. This time, he battled back after losing the opening set (2-6) to win a tight contest, taking the final two sets 6-4, 7-5.

Lauren Fullerton

Tournament Director Rob Seward told CaymanSportsBuzz.com he was quite happy with the turnout and the quality of play exhibited by the youngsters. He noted that with top players like Callum Theaker and Jade Wilkinson no longer competing on the circuit, there is opportunity for others to emerge as contenders, especially at the 18-and-Under division.

“They’ve moved on to better themselves tennis-wise and try to get scholarships. That’s why we do this anyways – To have all these kids have the opportunity to go on,” Seward said.

Among those who moved up was Neveril, who ran through unbeaten among 14-and-Under players in 2017. He beat Neildeep Ghosh in the quarterfinals 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 before being defeated by Booker in the semis. Neveril finished third.

“We have to remember Jakub is only 11 years old. For what he did last year in the 14 and Under, to not lose one tournament out of seven is remarkable. So, for him to come in this year and have a very good match in the 18 and Unders, that’s exactly what I expect…this is exactly what Jakub needs to do and I’m very impressed,” Seward said.

This was the first year that TFCI decided to hold a very popular doubles division in this tournament. Zach Jackson and Sebastion Bjuro won the 14-and-Under division, defeating Phoebe Claybourn and Grace Beighton in the finals.

In the first 18-and-Under doubles final, Jake Booker and Oskar Bjuro defeated Willow Wilkinson and Lauren Fullerton for the championship.

10-and-Under singles winner Phin Ellison (serving) in doubles action with Jake Fagan.

The PwC Junior Circuit is sponsored by PwC and the Tennis Federation of Cayman. “The Tennis Federation would like to thank PwC for their continued support sponsoring these tournaments as it really is a wonderful experience for the juniors to participate with a high level of sportsmanship and effort during the weekend tournament,” Seward said.

“As the tournament director, I would like to thank all of Tennis Federation for their support as volunteering for these tournaments. As all of us are volunteering our services, it really does create a lot of energy and time but to see the juniors compete and participate the way they do make’s everything worth it,” he added.

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