NATIONAL coach Anthony Jeremiah believes TT’s Under-16 trio of Aalisha Alexis, Isabel Abraham and Keesa Lee Young could have performed one better than their sixth-place finish at the Junior Fed Cup North/Central America & Caribbean pre-qualifiers
Jeremiah, who shared this thoughts on the five-day event, which concluded in El Salvador, Sunday, said TT let some winnable matches slip from their grasp.
He said in terms of domestic training, the players were prepared. “All players are in a national programme which prepares them for these types of competitions. So yes, they had enough preparation, however, there weren’t much regional competition opportunities prior to the event,” Jeremiah said.
He had just one suggestion for Tennis TT, the national governing body for the sport.
“Invest in exposing our players to more regional competition annually,” he said, “In this way they will get the necessary
exposure and a boost in confidence leading into such events. I believe they should be regularly involved since it’s the only Under-16s event in the region. It bridges the gap after leaving 14s to then play the 18s ITF."
Alexis, Abraham and Lee Young closed their account in the fifth/sixth place play-off with a 3-0 loss to Costa Rica, one of the teams Jeremiah said TT should have beaten.
It was TT’s first appearance at the Junior Fed Cup pre-qualifying event for six years.
“We had a great week, great competition,” Jeremiah said, “The girls played well to be placed sixth overall.”
TT opened their account with a win on the first day, edging the Bahamas 2-1 with doubles partners Alexis and Lee Young combining to break the deadlock after the two teams won a singles match each.
A more convincing display followed on day two when all three players secured wins in a 3-0 result over Panama. The victory saw TT automatically progress to the first-to-eighth play-off.
Unfortunately, a 2-1 loss to Curacao in the third and final group match meant TT would finish second in Group D and face a tougher draw in the play-offs against Group B winners Dominican Republic.
TT's bid for first place and a spot in the next phase to qualify for the Junior Fed Cup ended there as the Dominicans prevailed 3-0 win. A subsequent 2-1 win over Aruba and a 3-0 defeat to Costa Rica meant TT closed sixth.
“I believed we could have done better to reach fifth,” said Jeremiah, a former ITF development officer and coach with 20 years experience.
He added, “However, the only area we are really short is mental training and the belief that you can do this.”
Asked for his thoughts on the doubles partnership of Alexis and Lee Young, which looked unstoppable at certain junctures, Jeremiah said, “Keesa was the key player since she played with both girls at tournaments and could relate with both. Plus she can cover the court well, including volley.”
The TT pair won the opening doubles set against Costa Rica bur eventually fell 0-6, 6-1, 10-4. Jeremiah felt the duo should have been able to close out that match.
“I believe both Curaçao and Costa Rica, in my opinion, were winnable matches. We were in positions but did not convert,” he said.
The national girls team’s participation at the Junior Fed Cup competition followed their Under-16 male compatriots’ seventh place finish at the Junior Davis Cup in the same country the week before.