Samoa’s best young tennis talents flew to New Zealand today to test themselves against some of the best players in the region.
A team of twenty children aged between 7 and 16 will represent the Vailima Tennis Academy (V.T.A.) Club at the Waikato Xmas Junior Open from the 7th to the 12th of December, followed by the Auckland Junior Championships from the 17th to the 20th.
Samoa Tennis junior development officer and V.T.A. Club founder Tagaloa Yvonne Wilson-Carruthers said these international trips make the players better and more confident.
“It gives them good experience, and high motivation to stay in the sport longer.”
“It’s very important for exposure to different players levels of play, styles, strength, weaknesses and learn from these different situations and how to become a better player.“
She said as well as the strong competition from the local New Zealanders, there will also be players from Australia and other Pacific Islands.
The V.T.A. Club try to send away a team at the end of every year during the school holidays.
“This is part of our preparations for our 10 to 16-year-olds who will compete in the annual East Pacific Regional Championships held in New Zealand in April.”
“The club does fundraising from September through December, and we are greatly supported by the business community and families.”
Wilson-Carruthers said 90% of Samoan junior players have competed in these international tournaments, and they are an important step towards a career in tennis.
“Our head coach Steffi Carruthers competed in these tournaments at the age of 8yrs old before going professional at 21.”
Steffi Carruthers is Samoa’s first pro women’s tennis-player, and became the first Pacific woman to win a professional title in the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Wilson-Carruthers also mentioned 11-year-old Mahinarangi Warren as a success story
“She started playing in these competitions five years ago.”
“Her and another Vailima Tennis Academy player, Roselyn Tupuola will be competing in the Tennis Australia December Show Down junior championships in Melbourne this weekend.”
“These two players have also sealed scholarships with the ITF Pacific Training Centre in Lautoka, Fiji for 2019.”