James tops major international tennis tournament
Nine-year-old Hillel Academy student, Alyssa James, who is one of Jamaica's top age-group tennis players, had the country's flag flying high in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, on Tuesday, when she won the title for 9-year-olds in the Little Mo International Tennis Tournament.
The competition features players from all over the world in the 8-12 age group.
The Little Mo series of junior tournaments are run each year in honour of the brilliant tennis player Maureen 'Little Mo' Connolly, who in 1953, at 18, won the tennis Grand Slam of the Australian, French and US Open along with Wimbledon. She was, however, seriously injured in a horse riding accident in 1954 and was not able to play tennis again. She died at age 34 of cancer.
There is a 'Little Mo Grand Slam' of four tournaments each year. It offers the tallest trophy in the world to the winner of the series. The trophy is six feet tall, and, most times, is taller than the young player who wins it.
James, was seeded at No. 4 among the 20 players in her age group, which consisted of representatives from Jamaica, the USA, Canada, Spain, Ecuador, and Great Britain.
In her first match, she defeated Isabella Marton from Canada 6-1, 6-0, and in her next match, she defeated another Canadian, Justine Tardif, 6-1, 6-4.
She next faced a serious challenge in the semi-finals, from the No. 2 seeded player from the USA, Natalie Oliver and won that encounter 7-5, 6-1. It was close going in the first set, but with that behind her, she became aggressive, and with a lethal forehand being her main weapon, she took the second set comfortably, to move into the finals against the No. 1 seeded player Sasha Kilgour from the USA.
James encountered another close first set, which went to a tie break, but then raced away in the second set for a comfortable victory. The score was 7-6 (4), 6-0.