Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Make It Legendary | Smashing her way to the top

Published:Wednesday | May 31, 2017 | 5:00 AMKeisha Hill
Jenna Harrison goes through her workout paces at the Liguanea Club on Monday.
Jenna Harrison goes through her workout paces at the Liguanea Club on Monday.
"It's an amazing feeling to know that I'm No. 2," says Jenna Harrison.
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It can feel, sometimes, as if it is impossible to move towards your dreams. You know exactly what you want to do, but there are endless obstacles in your way. However, top-ranked national tennis player Jenna Harrison is working hard to fulfil her dreams of being the best female in the game in Jamaica, across the region and the world.

The number two-ranked player is quite aware that there are others who are competing to be exactly what she wants to be. But Harrison is not deterred and knows that most of the competition isn't hard to bypass. With humility, commitment and determination, she is poised to make it in the sport.

"When I was younger, my mom, who was also a player for Jamaica, introduced me to the game. Ever since, I have loved the sport. It is like a stress reliever for me, and where I can be a genius. It's my thinking space because when I am on the court, my mind is clear and everything makes sense," Harrison said.

Harrison has been representing Jamaica since age 11 and is currently ranked at No. 2 in Under-14, No. 2 in Under-16 and No. 2 in Under-18 categories. On average, she trains up to five days per week to ensure she is at her optimum level on match days.

"I get up every day to practise the sport because I know that practising every day is what it takes to get to the level that I want to be," Harrison said.

 

COLLEGE TENNIS

 

Playing college tennis is an attractive option for many aspiring players, and for Harrison, she would like to play at this level, before reaching her ultimate goal of becoming a professional player. "I want to play college tennis, but we will see how that goes and where it will take me," she said.

In 2015, the teenager was ranked by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as one of the top eight girls in the Under-13 division for Central America and the Caribbean. She was invited to El Salvador in October to a specialised ITF training camp for one week. The course catered to the top eight boys and girls for Central America and the Caribbean.

In January 2016, Harrison represented Jamaica in the Dominican Republic at the Junior Federation Cup, which is an International Under-16 girls' event. She and her Jamaican teammates placed fifth out of 15 countries, including Guatemala, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, The Bahamas, Barbados, CuraÁao, among others.

In the five singles and three doubles matches that she played, Harrison dropped only one singles match. Later, in March, she again qualified to represent Jamaica in the Under-14 World Junior Tennis Cup, held in El Salvador.

Jamaica again placed fifth out of 14 countries, losing 2-1 in the quarter-finals to El Salvador in a very close tie. In the singles, Harrison placed fourth overall among 42 girls competing from 14 nations.

'Amazing feeling to know that I'm No. 2'

"It is an amazing feeling to know that I am number two in women's. It's not a feat that an average person achieves every day. Like my younger opponents, we have all been stepping up our game and doing our best," said Jenna Harrison, the third-form Campion College student.

At the end of March, two days after leaving El Salvador, she went on to play at the United States Tennis Association Super Series in Boca Raton, Florida, and in the final, she defeated the second-seeded American player in straight sets to win the girls' Under-14 event.

In January 2017, after recovering from a five-month break and injury, Harrison qualified to represent Jamaica at the prestigious Junior Federation Cup to be played in El Salvador in March. In preparation for same, in late January, she played and won the Liguanea Club Junior Open Girls' event.

In El Salvador, the team placed ninth out of 15 teams representing the Caribbean and Central America.

Meanwhile in April, having just returned from El Salvador, she won the Guardian Life Junior Tennis Tournament in the Under-18 category.

During this month, she played in the West Palm Beach, Florida, Super Series Tournament and there defeated the No. 3-, 2- and 1-seeded players to win the tournament.

"At the end of the day, I am there to win, but also to have fun, play my best, and win my match," she added.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com