Cayman tennis player enrols at IMG academy

| 16/02/2018
CNS Local Life

Jade Wilkinson flanked by Red Ayme and Margie Zesinger of IMG

(CNS Local Life): Jade Wilkinson, 17, Cayman’s top female junior tennis player, recently accepted a partial scholarship to IMG in Florida, one of the world’s best tennis academies. She started her intensive training at the Florida sports academy in early January. IMG specialises in training young athletes to become competitive professionals in sports including basketball, soccer and lacrosse, in addition to tennis.

This marks the first time a Caymanian youngster has been offered an IMG tennis scholarship. “Jade’s scholarship is a big moment for Cayman tennis, a game changer,” said Susan Lindsay, president of the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands (TFCI). “It is proof that, if a young player works hard enough, it is possible to pursue a tennis career in the US straight from Cayman.”

Noting the quality of the TFCI junior tournaments, training and coaches, she added, “So the whole tennis community is delighted with this result, it confirms we’re getting many things right, that we have a good structure.”

“I’m hoping that I will get stronger physically and mentally, and improve my tennis by making use of the fantastic facilities, coaches and opportunities present here.”

CNS Local Life

Jade Wilkinson with Cayman flag at IMG

She is also looking ahead to university. “The end goal is to play collegiate tennis at a highly ranked school, and so I am working hard at IMG academy to make this happen,” she said.

Officially known as the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy, the school will enable Wilkinson to compete in a large variety of tournaments, many more than she could in Cayman, as well as practise and play against many girls at her level and above. The academy has 55 courts, and former students include such tennis greats as Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova.

Wilkinson noted that she had looked very carefully at IMG’s academic programme before moving there, and was confident that she would be able to maintain her strong scholastic record, despite switching from the British education system to that of the US. She has academic studies in the morning, tennis and fitness training every afternoon, and further study time in the evening.

Red Ayme, who took Tommy Haas to No.2 in the world rankings, leads a team of four coaches who work with Wilkinson daily, said Margie Zesinger, director of IMG’s female tennis programme.

Zesinger is already a big fan of Wilkinson: “She’s a great girl, very very positive. Her energy, determination and drive are extremely high. She has adjusted to being here so well, and the girls all love her – not just the tennis girls but across all the sports.”

She also pointed to the benefits of IMG for Wilkinson. “She has put herself in the best situation, an extremely competitive environment, to reach her potential. She has great coaching and competition all in one location,” she said.

Wilkinson has set a benchmark to which other junior players can now realistically aspire, added Lindsay. “They can set their sights on a tennis academy as a way to get into US college tennis, or as a stepping stone to joining the pro circuit. Jade has shown the way.”

The young tennis player had words of encouragement for other hopefuls in her short in in Cayman. “Being at IMG shows that Cayman has good coaching and if you work hard and play all the tournaments available, and also arrange as many matches as possible, then you can get good enough to achieve greater things. So, me being at IMG means a lot for Cayman tennis. It shows that even though Cayman is small, anything is possible.”

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Category: Sports, Tennis

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well done Jade! Well deserved!