Talented teenage sensations Hannah Chambers and Stephen Slocombe were unmatched on the court and crowned Under-16 and 18 champions of the 2019 Sol Junior Tennis Nationals played this morning at the National Tennis Centre in Wildey, St. Michael.
It was an excellent day for the 15-year-old Chambers seeded at number one as she not only grabbed the women’s Under-18 trophy 6-4, 6-1 against the number two seed Chloe Weekes, but she also captured the Under-16 title 6-1, 6-1 over Serena Bryan.
Slocombe also had an impressive showing when he smashed James Mackenzie 6-3, 6-1 in the Under-18 males final and returned this afternoon to defeat Adam King 6-1, 6-1 for another memorable performance.
An inform Chambers won two Under-18 International Tennis Federation titles in St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines over the past month. She also had the privilege of training at Pancho Alverno Academy in Spain this year for three weeks and explained that she has not played in Barbados for a while and that it felt good to win at home.
“It feels good to win. I haven’t played in Barbados for a while, so it is good to be back. Outside was hot, so I had to adjust and keep pushing,” Chambers said, adding that her game plan during this morning final was to be consistent, serve properly and execute the right techniques.
The powerfully built right-hander began playing junior nationals in the Under-18 Division at 13-years-old and today she showed why she’s ranked among the best female players in Barbados.
In the Under-18 final which all eyes were focused on, Chambers with the serve at 3-2 extended her lead 5-2 en route to set point. But the inevitable was stalled by Weekes who fought back to trail by just one point [4-5] as she showed renewed determination.
However, Chambers never lost her composure and went on to win 6-4 as she stroked the ball with power as Weekes fluffed several attempted returns.
Weekes served to commence the second set but was unable to break Chambers’ momentum as both young ladies battled the hot conditions on court.
Chambers led 3-0 and knew exactly where to put the ball, and her serves had Weekes in trouble. The latter did not have enough breathing room to play her returns while she put too much power behind her shots when she did return.
Similarly, the number two seed Stephen Slocombe made it look easy when he trounced James Mackenzie 6-3, 6-1 when the men’s Under-18 singles followed shortly after the ladies on court one.
Slocombe led 3-2 as the number one seed Mackenzie kept up well in the rallies and ensured he trailed closely. A couple of unforced errors cost Slocombe as he placed a bit too much power behind his shots and allowed Mackenzie to equalise at 3-3. But he quickly regained the advantage as the battle continued in what was a close first set.
Slocombe’s right-handed forehand shots were well-executed. He delivered them cross-court in places Mackenzie was unable to reach during the rallies. As Slocombe edged closer to wrapping up the opening set with a 5-3 lead, Mackenzie complained of not seeing the ball when he received service as the sunlight affected his vision.
But Slocombe was not distracted and played several decent drop shots and lobs that the left-handed Mackenzie stationed frequently on the baseline was unable to sprint and reach. Even when Slocombe put the ball in the frontcourt, and McKenzie did get there, he placed his returns wide of the scoring area which were points easily gifted to his opponent who appeared reasonably relaxed.
In no time Slocombe raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, and even though he was broken at that stage by Mackenzie [1-3], he went on to drop only one point and dominated with ease.
Speaking after the game, Slocombe expressed that it felt nice to win and said he just stuck to what he trained for and adjusted accordingly when necessary.
Describing the Under-18 final against Mackenzie, Slocombe said: “He is a very difficult opponent, especially because he is left-handed. In the first set, he gave me a lot of trouble with his serves; I was only making like twenty-five percent returns. But as the match progressed I started to get accustomed to his serves and his game which made it more comfortable for me in the second set.”
In the Under-14 final, Peter Gooding won 6-4,6-1 against Nathaniel Gilkes while Serena Bryan defeated Shonte Sargeant 6-1, 6-1 in the girls. [email protected]