Burke enjoying 'best of both worlds'
Jamaica's Ivy League competitor, 20-year-old Brandon Burke, is encouraging the country's young players to go the route of collegiate tennis, as he believes it is a great avenue to get a good education and play at a very high level.
Burke is a junior at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, in the third year of a four-year programme where he is studying sociology.
"I think especially from a country like Jamaica which it is a Third World country, and there is not that much money to try and go professional at first, college is a great stepping stone and it is a way to get a great education through tennis," Burke said.
"You can use tennis and get a scholarship, and that is what I am doing, and they pay for your schooling for the four years and you are able to compete at a high level and get an education. So it is the best of both worlds," he added.
Burke, who intends to pursue a second degree in law, left Jamaica at age 13 for Florida where he attended a tennis academy for three years to train. He then took a year off before enrolling at Brown. In his first year, he was named the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 Rookie of the Year for the Ivy League.
The 6'3" Burke is hoping to win his first Ivy League title with the Brown Bears men's team next year.
"We have won some titles, but the biggest goal is to win the Ivy League title," Burke revealed. "We haven't been able to do that yet, but I think we will have our best chance this upcoming season in April.
"The dream is to play professional tennis, but I have to see how feasible it is in the next year or two. It depends on how I can play and if the finances are available."
Burke is in the island participating in the NCB Capital Markets Jamaica Open Tennis Championship, which is being played at Liguanea Club, New Kingston.
Burke, who is Jamaica's No. 1 Davis Cup player and is seeded at No. 8 in the championship, recorded a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Orick Angus in his opening match on Tuesday.
"I think that Tennis Jamaica is doing a great job with tournaments like these to give the players exposure and to get overseas players to come down here and play in our backyard - where we have the upper hand in terms of the conditions and the environments and knowing the courts," Burke reasoned.
"I think it is a great change, and I think that if they are able to continue to do this then they will see the rewards in years to come."