USA Wins The North American Junior Challenge
With a final day win over Canada the strong USA team, led by National 16 & under USA Champion Stiles Brockett, won the North American IC Rod Laver Junior Challenge. This was held in The Bahamas and earns the USA a place in The 2013 Worldwide Finals in La Jolla.
An unexpected Tropical Storm Nicole caused considerable problems for organisation and there was even a possibility incoming team flights could be cancelled. Despite sponging the courts several times on the first day of scheduled play rain prevented tennis from taking place ( there are no indoor courts in The Bahamas ). However it was not a lost day for the juniors as it was organised for them to go as guests later in the afternoon to the famous Aquaventure Park at The Atlantis Resort. This is a world famous facility...... apart from the outstanding marine exhibits the "Leap of Faith" waterslide at The Mayan Temple and the "Rapid River Ride" proved popular...... the beach and swimming in the sea were closed for the storm.
Fortunately the weather improved on the second and third days of play and the Captains agreed the priority was to try and complete the tournament. So two matches were doubled up and once an overall result between two teams was achieved they would move on to the next inter country match and not necessarily play the doubles. Unfortunately these necessary changes and also because of Tropical Storm Nicole itself it meant that the clinic for less privileged kids could not be held..... schools were closed for the storm.
On the long day of extra matches the USA and Canada recorded wins over both the two Bahamas teams. In the absence of the usual Mexico Team, it had been agreed to enter two Bahamas teams to get a full four team Round Robin Event.
This set up the final day match up between the strong USA and Canada teams while the two young Bahamas teams battled it out for third and fourth places. All the Bahamas juniors had played in The IC Winterbotham Trust Junior Development series the IC had previously run for 10 and 12 year olds. Winterbotham Trust also helped to sponsor this event and The Bahamas IC thanks them for that. Most of the Bahamas team were only 14 and will still be age eligible in two years time. So they anticipate being much more competitive by the next North American Challenge and this was a valuable experience.
The final day singles matches between USA and Canada were all close contests. It resulted in the USA going up three matches to one but only after they had won two of these on third tie break sets with Emma Toutoveanu of Canada getting their one win. This then meant the doubles was live. In this the USA Boys pair of Stiles Brockett and Jonah Hill won over the Canada pair of Edward Stan and Alec Anghel in a very high standard match that would have been worthy of any Worldwide Final. So this resulted in an overall victory for the USA as North American Champions with Canada in second place.
At the Welcome dinner the juniors were given special "IC Rod Laver Junior Challenge in The Bahamas" T shirts. Apart from the tennis there was a full social program for all the juniors including The Welcome and Prize Presentation dinners at which the organising team and parents of The Bahamas Juniors also came to. These were both held at the Team Hotel where the resident parrot "Marcus" was prone to speak and join in any speeches !
On another night the visiting teams were invited to dinner at the home of an IC Member overlooking the harbour where they were introduced to some fun and lively card games. This caused much laughter and got them talking to each other and away from phones !
On the last night Presentation Dinner, at which USA was awarded its trophies, all teams gave an explanation of their country flag and told information about their country.
The Bahamas IC thanks all the captains and players for their co-operation in difficult circumstances and congratulates the juniors on some very high standard tennis generally played in the IC Spirit of "Hands across the net, friendship across the ocean".