Young tennis star in Canada on scholarship
Micheala Stephens, Jamaica's top female tennis player, and who at 14 years of age is one of Jamaica's brightest tennis prospects, left on Wednesday for the Ace Tennis Academy in Burlington, Canada, on a three-month scholarship designed to hone her skills and prepare her for international competition later this year.
Douglas Burke, the former technical director at Tennis Jamaica, and now the president of the academy, made the offer to Stephens on a visit to Jamaica last year.
Burke said then that he was so impressed with Stephens, who is both the female junior and senior champion in Jamaica, after seeing her play last year, that he not only gave her some tennis lessons, but decided to invite her to the academy in Canada for specialised training.
"I was impressed with how Micheala had improved since I last saw her, and I am sure that with the proper training, she can go very far in this sport " he said then.
DISCOVERED BY COACH
Stephens, has been playing tennis since she was eight years of age and was discovered by Jamaican coach Thomas Plummer. Stephens told The Gleaner before her departure that while a student at St Thomas Moore Preparatory School in Clarendon, she was invited to play the game by coach Plummer.
"I was only interested in netball and football at that time, but one afternoon Mr Plummer told me that he would like me to try tennis and I agreed. I liked it immediately, and I have been in love with the game since then."
Stephens was thrilled when coach Burke told her that he wanted her to come to Canada to train with him.
"I want to be a professional tennis player and be the first female from Jamaica to play at Wimbledon, so this will help me to get there. I will do whatever he tells me to do, as I want to get better," she added.
Stephens is a student at Liberty Academy in St Andrew and arrangements have been made for her to continue her schoolwork online, and her tutors have kindly agreed to facilitate this.
"It will be difficult to keep up with both, but I will be doing my best to be successful," she ended.