Tennis ace Oskar Bjuroe wins prestigious scholarship

Oskar Bjuroe

One of Cayman’s top young tennis players has won a scholarship to a distinguished international tennis school.  
For Oskar Bjuroe, 16, who’s just completed GCSEs at Cayman Prep, it’s a dream come true. He recently accepted his place at the Bahamas’ Albany Tennis Academy and will be packing his kit bags and heading for Nassau on 2 September. 
“This scholarship is a big moment for Oskar, and well deserved,” commented Susan Lindsay, president of the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands. “Oskar’s been on the PwC-sponsored junior tournament circuit since he was eight, and part of the TFCI’s Elite Squad. He’s been coached at the CI Tennis Club, and has put huge time and effort into improving his game to the point where’s he probably not just one of our top juniors, but one of the best players on the island,” she said. 
Bjuroe is naturally thrilled to be going to Albany, a newly-established boutique academy known for its world-class facilities and powered by former world No.1, Lleyton Hewitt. 
“I never thought it would be possible to attend Albany Tennis Academy and the Windsor School, especially since Covid-19 happened this year. But I pursued my contact with the Academy during lockdown, trying not to appear too persistent, as I felt I had nothing to lose although I knew it was financially prohibitive.     
“Albany have offered me a generous scholarship and without that I would not be attending.  I am extremely grateful and cannot wait to get there and start training.” 

Oskar Bjuroe

Bjuroe has been contemplating going to a tennis school for “the last couple years”, he says. He feels “it would benefit me both in tennis growth as well as broaden my horizons and give me an opportunity to see where my talent may lead me.  I’d read about Albany, in Nassau, but learned more through my friend and top Cayman golfer, Holly McLean. She’s attended the Albany Golf Academy for the past year and was very positive about the entire experience.       
“The main reason I chose Albany is because of the world-class facilities and coaching they offer, the excellent climate, and how close it is to Cayman, which will always be home.  
“As a player who will be representing the Academy, I understand we will travel and play international and regional tournaments regularly. I believe there are eight teenage players currently in the Tennis Academy and attending the Windsor School.   I will board at The Lodge at Windsor School in a really nice-size room! The room would usually sleep two students but, thanks to Covid19, for now it’ll only be one.” 
The school and tennis facility are set within the 600-acre Albany Resort. Other sports taught to aspiring professionals at Albany include swimming, running, golf, soccer and basketball.  The Academy shapes and prepares tennis players aged 12-18 for the next stage in their careers, be it college or pro tennis. “My school day will start at 8am and finish at 12.45pm. After lunch, I’ll have tennis training til 6pm each day, followed by an hour’s fitness training in the gym,” explains Bjuroe. “There are a few mornings a week I will be doing fitness training in the pool or gym before school too.”

Bjuroe, son of Sue and Johan Bjuroe, and elder brother of Sebastian, another strong athlete, developed his early game under the tutelage of highly-respected pro Dale Avery at the CITC.  Avery moved back to Canada in 2017.  “Dale was very influential in my early tennis career, both on and off the court,” says Bjuroe. “Since then I have had two main coaches: Scott Kidd, head pro at CITC, and more recently Noah Capetta. In 2019, I won the final and major tournament of the PwC junior circuit in November, after a rough start to the year. 
“I try to play five or six days a week as well as doing strength and conditioning on the side. My ambition is to play Division 1 US college tennis and to possibly play in some professional events.” His main rivals in tennis (as well as great friends) in Cayman are Lauren Fullerton, Jake Booker and Zach Jackson, he adds. 
Off the court, Bjuroe enjoys golf, kite-surfing and “anything to do with the sea, in particular freediving”.  Being active, “keeping moving and being true to yourself is important to me”, he says.  His favourite tennis player is Australian Nick Kyrgios “because of his rebelliousness and not being scared of breaking the traditional mould of tennis players”. 
Richele LeSaldo, Albany’s director of tennis, suggests Bjuroe’s passion for the game, coupled with good behaviour on and off the court, were an important part of his appeal to Albany selectors.  “My first impression of Oskar when he reached out to me during lockdown was that I liked that he took initiative, which showed that he was serious about taking the next step in his tennis. To succeed in anything in life you have to be passionate and I could sense his passion.  
“Despite not having tremendous international experience, Oskar’s recommendations were very strong. One his recommendations came from his present coach, Scott Kidd, who was very supportive of Oskar’s decision. Scott is a former Clemson University Coach and I played for Clemson, although not at the same time Scott was there. With Scott’s knowledge of tennis and his support of Oskar, I felt that Oskar would be a great addition to the ‘A’ team. Likewise when I spoke with Oskar’s mother, Susan, I felt strongly that Oskar was the type of person and player that would represent the “A” team well both on and off the court.” 
What makes the Albany Tennis Academy special “is our environment”, adds Richele. “Albany is truly a sportsperson’s paradise. On any given day you will see either a former or present-day pro athlete in our sporting facilities – tennis, golf, football, American football. One of my players just finished a six-week training block as a hitting partner for Milos Raonic [Canadian, no.30 in world rankings] as he prepared for the US Open. Being in a professional environment inspires professionalism. 
“As a small academy, our players get more individual attention compared to a bigger academy. As a coach who has coached college, professional and very highly ranked junior players that have played all of the junior Grand Slams, I know what it takes to develop a junior player to take them to that next level of achieving their goals. The development path of each player is different and as such each player’s development plan is designed to meet their individual needs — this is the advantage of a ‘boutique’ academy.  
“We’re located just 30 minutes from Florida, but with the pandemic we can expect that travel to tournaments will be very restricted. Nevertheless our players will be ready to compete when given the green light.”

Submitted by Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands

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