Island Games a special opportunity for Cayman’s tennis players

Jade Wilkinson and Berno de Villiers are two of the eight players representing Cayman.

The Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands is sending two full teams – men’s and women’s – to the XVIII NatWest International Island Games starting in Gibraltar this weekend.

“The Island Games is an important international opportunity for Cayman tennis players,” the Federation pointed out in a statement. “Due to the ranking requirements for the Olympics, Pan-Am Games and CAC Games, the Island Games is currently the only international platform where tennis players are able to enter and represent Cayman.”

The women’s team is Ilona Groark, Jade Wilkinson, Lauren Fullerton and Willow Wilkinson. The men’s team is Berno de Villiers, Daniel Reid, Callum Theaker and Jake Booker.

First up is the team competition on Sunday 7 July, with the women opening their quest in the quarterfinals against Isle of Man and the men taking on Isle of Wight in the round of 16.

Learn more about the players below:

Women’s Team

Ilona Groark is originally from the UK and moved to Cayman in 2017. She started playing tennis when she was 15 and played for the University of Cambridge. She recently took up the sport again and now competes in ITF Senior events. Over the past couple of years she has played tournaments in England, Spain, Germany, France, Latvia, Jamaica and the US.

Jade Wilkinson is our top female Caymanian player. In January 2018 she transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida to pursue her tennis dream of being the first Caymanian female to play college tennis. Jade has recently accepted a place at Vassar College and she will compete on their women’s tennis team.

Lauren Fullerton is one of the top players in her age group in Cayman and will be turning 16 just before the Island Games. She has competed in numerous tournaments in Cayman and overseas – including Canada, Jamaica and the USA.

Willow Wilkinson is the youngest member of the team at only 14 and is the current 14& Under National Champion.  Willow qualified for the Junior Orange Bowl as the U14 Champion and earned runner-up in the Mixed Doubles and Women’s Doubles draws in the 2019 Cayman Islands Club Championship. 

Men’s Team

Berno de Villiers is originally from South Africa and moved to Cayman in 2018. He started playing tennis when he was 5 years old and played most of his competitive tennis in South Africa. He has also competed in tournaments in Mauritius, Renunion and Argentina.  

Daniel Reid started playing tennis when he was 6 years old, competing in local tournaments as well as tournaments abroad in the Caribbean, South America, the US and Canada. Daniel played Varsity Tennis for Upper Canada College in Toronto, Canada and recently completed his first year of university at McGill University in Montreal, Canada where he was a member of the McGill University Tennis Team.   This will be Daniel’s third time representing Cayman in the Island Games.

Callum Theaker started playing tennis at the age of 5 and competed in many local tournaments to become the number one Cayman player in the 18& Under. He is currently attending Tough Tennis Academy in Naples, Florida and has received a formal acceptance to attend the Division 1 UNC Greensboro, North Carolina and play on their tennis team. This will be Callum’s second time representing Cayman in the Island Games; he previously competed in Gotland in 2017.

Jake Booker is the youngest member of the team, turning 15 just before the Island Games. Jake began playing tennis at the age of ten and in the 5 years he has played, he has worked his way up through the rankings, last year winning the 18& Under championship. He has played in both local and international tournaments, including the Orange Bowl in Miami.

The teams are accompanied by Junior Hydes, the team manager, and Robert Hale, the team coach.

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