Jamaica's youngsters move up tennis rankings
Jamaica's 14 and under team to the 2012 World Junior Tennis Championship for North/Central America and the Caribbean Team Championships for boys and girls - an International Tennis Federation-sanctioned event - improved its rankings in both the male and female category after some impressive performances.
The contingent consisted of three boys, three girls and two coaches.
The girls team of Shaeda Nickle, Shae-ann Kamika and Stephanie Franz, with Kadija Richards of Tennis Jamaica as their coach, moved up to 10th place in the rankings after defeating Nicaragua 2-1.
The boys team of Jacob Bicknell, Blaise Bicknell and Kyle Martin, with Rayne Russell as their coach, moved Jamaica from last place up to ninth after beating Nicaragua 3-0, to go with their big 3-0 upset win over Panama.
Blaise Bicknell, at 10-years, was by far the youngest player in the tournament, but despite this was able to win two of his four singles matches. Nickle and Jacob Bicknell, both 12-year-olds, were also young compared to their competitors and really shone as they took on the number one seeds in singles from each country they played. For Martin and Franz this was their first tournament outside Jamaica and they formed part of the winning doubles team in two matches.
The Jamaican boys, because of their low rankings, had a very hard draw for the first round as they were put in the number one seeded group with top seed El Salvador and Puerto Rico. Despite losing to those two teams, they were able to go on and win all their remaining matches.
With the team being so young for this 14 and under international tournament, they will have a great chance of progressing even further up the rankings next year.