Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Campion's Harrison aims to 'be the best'

Published:Wednesday | May 25, 2016 | 5:00 AMMarc Stamp
Jenna Harrison with her trophy for winning the Girls' Under-16 title at the Gas Pro Junior Tennis Championship, at Liguanea Club, New Kingston, recently.
Jenna Harrison prepares to make a forearm return while competing in the Girls' Under-16 final at the Gas Pro Junior Tennis Championship at Liguanea Club, New Kingston, recently.
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Top-ranked Under-16 national tennis player Jenna Harrison is working hard to be the best female in the game in Jamaica.

The 13-year-old Campion College second-form student has class and ability and is fully aware that it requires hard work and commitment to make it in the sport.

She trains five days per week on average - two mornings at 5:30 a.m. and three afternoons.

"I want to be the best," Harrison told The Gleaner after winning the Girls' Under-16 title at the Gas Pro Junior Tennis Championship recently at the Liguanea club in New Kingston.

Reflecting on the Gas Pro tournament, Jenna said it was good.

"The Gas Pro competition was good. I didn't play in a tournament for awhile. I played Selena Blythe in final and won. Selena is a strong player," she said.

She has been representing Jamaica from age 11 and is currently ranked at No. 2 in the Under 14 and No. 1 in Under 16 category.

Last August in Guatemala, the former Hillel Prep student created history

by winning a gold medal at the Junior International Tennis Championship in the Caribbean and Central America.

The only Jamaican representative, she advanced to the quarter-finals of the singles event.

However, Harrison teamed up with Romari Cardenas to win the girls' doubles - in a closely contested three-set match - marking the first time a local player was notching the achievement.

"My ambition is to become number one in Jamaica, earn a tennis scholarship to an excellent univer-sity, and to be able to become good enough to have an option to pursue a career in tennis or just play college tennis," she said.

"I am going to continue training very hard to have a choice in the future. I am improving with the help of coach Llockett McGregor of the Liguanea Club," Harrison pointed out.

McGregor, a former Jamaica representative and veteran tennis coach, says that the player has the ability to make it to the top.

"She is coming along nicely. We are on a programme and she is doing well. Jenna is pushed by short-term goals and works hard when those goals are set."

His prodigy is able to balance tennis and academics due to strong support from parents, Judy and Richard Harrison, as well as coach McGregor and teachers at Campion College.

Besides tennis, she enjoys the beach, music and hanging with family and friends. Her favourite tennis player is Novak Djokovic and her favourite food is calamari.

 

TOP EIGHT RANKING

 

In 2015, the teenager was ranked by the International Tennis Federation 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 Jamaica teammates placed fifth of the 15 countries, including Guatemala, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, amongst 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 singles, Harrison placed fourth overall among 42 girls competing from 14 nations.

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 and in the final, she defeated the second seeded American player in straight sets to win the Girls' Under-14 event.

"I enjoy the sport because I get to travel and meet other people. It's about getting exposure to other culture," she said.