Today, Vincentian Junior Tennis champion, Fabrice George is in Florida, accompanied by his father, Claudius Gorge, creating Tennis history for St Vincent and the Grenadines as he lines up in the 47th Junior Orange Bowl Tennis Championships.
Ever so often a young talented individual emerges in the field of sport and it gladdens the hearts of those sporting enthusiasts.
In the field of Tennis, St Vincent and the Grenadines appears to have been blessed with a number of talented youngsters. In the recent past we watched the emergence of Lerissa Morris, Corey Huggins and Kirk Da Silva. These came to the fore with the forward push in the sport that witnessed the construction and administration of a home for the sport at the National Tennis Centre, Villa.
Now we have the very talented Fabrice George seeking to re-write the Tennis history of St Vincent and the Grenadines with a commitment to the sport that makes for a sound future.
During 2006 Fabrice attended the Rick Macci Tennis Academy, Florida, USA, for a one-week training session during the period 9 – 15 April. This was in keeping with his rapid growth in the game and the importance of benefiting from some exposure to a higher level of training. The impact of the training was remarkable.
Fabrice George attended the RBTT Championships held in St. Maarten, during the period 10 – 14 July. Playing in the Under 14 competition he reached the quarter finals in both the singles and doubles.
Fabrice then returned home to contest in the local RBTT Championships in the same month and emerged victorious in the Boys U14 Singles, Boys U14 Doubles Winner and stepped up to take the Boys U 16 Singles. For his exploits in this particular competition Fabrice was awarded the Junior Tennis Challenge Trophy.
With an appetite for competition and with the full support of his parents/family, Fabroce then journeyed to neighbouring St Lucia to contest the Coca Cola ITF Junior Tournament, played during the period 6 – 14 August. The competition was tougher but he rallied to the semi -finals of the Boys U14 Singles, won the Boys U14 Doubles and was awarded the Best Sportsmanship Trophy.
Fabrice’s development in the game received another important boost when he attended the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Florida, USA, during the period 19 – 26 August. This exposure was made possible by United Bank Ltd. St. Vincent.
Fabrice was then selected as a member of the national representative Junior Tennis team to the Caribbean Junior Team Tennis Tournament, held during the period 27 August to 2 September. The team placed six out of the eleven participating countries.
Fabrice was then selected to train with the top juniors from the Caribbean during the period13 – 17 November, from which four players were chosen to tour South America in January and February 2007.
A full year of competition for the young Fabrice George saw him contest the MILO OECS Championships, 11 – 15 December. He made it to the semi finals in both the Boys U14 Singles and the Boys U14 Doubles.
The competitive season began early for Fabrice George. Still under 14, he traveled to Guatemala in Central America where he contested the World Junior Championships during the period 19 – 24. This was one of the highlights of his career as he saw the very best in the world at the height of their game. Thankfully the continued guidance and support of the family aided in his ability to stay on course and not be daunted by the level of play he witnessed at the Championships.
In June he travelled to Bermuda where he participated in the Bank of Bermuda Championships during the period 15 – 24 June. He won the Boys Under 14 Singles and was a finalist in the Boys Under 14 Doubles
Next up was the St Maarten Juniors Open tournament during the period 7 – 14 July. He made it to the semifinals in the Boys Under 14 Singles and teamed up with Ibian Hodgson of Aruuba to take the Boys Under 14 Doubles title in style.
Fabrice did just as he had done the previous year. He quickly returned to St Vincent to contest the RBTT Junior Championships during the period 16 – 24 July 2007. It was a maturing and much better prepared player who took the local courts and he easily won the Boys Under 14 Singles, teamed up with Johnathan Perry to win the Boys Under 14 Doubles, played with Olivia Haslam to win the Mixed Doubles Under 14, and stepped up again to win the Boys Under 16 Singles. At the conclusion of the competition Fabrice was voted the Most Outstanding Player of Tournament – a most deserving award.
For Fabrice though things were only just getting warm in a year with numerous competitions. His parents were prepared to have him benefit from as much exposure as possible and he seemed prepared for the challenges ahead.
During the period 6 – 12 August, Fabrice contested the ITF Coca Cola Junior Tennis Championships in St Lucia. There he won the Boys Under 14 Singles and teamed up with Yannick James of Grenada to win the Boys Under 14 Doubles.
Off Fabrice went to the Caribbean Under 14 Junior Development Championships held during the period 13 – 20 August. He was the leader of the national representative team which eventually finished third overall in the competition. There were 14 teams involved in the contest. Fabrice placed third in his grouping and teamed up with Shane Latchman in the Boy’s Doubles and made it to the finals.
Next, Fabrice contested the IBM ITF Junior Circuit in Trinidad and Tobago during the period 1 – 6 October. He disposed of the top ranked Trinidadian in the finals to win the Boy’s U-14 Singles and teamed up with Jabrille Kabli of Trinidad and Tobago in the Boys U – 14 Doubles, making it to the finals.
Just over one week later Fabrice was in Barbados contesting the FCIB ITF Junior Circuit during the period 15 – 21 October. He was a semifinalist in the Boys U-14 Singles and teamed up with Kevin Huggins to win the Boys U-14 Doubles
Clearly growing a bit tired and with the weight of all Vincentians on his shoulders, Fabrice took up the challenge once more in the DIGICEL ITF Junior Championships played here during the period 22 – 27 October. Unfortunately he only made it to the semifinals in the Boys U-14 Singles.
For his exploits thus far, Fabrice is currently ranked # 1 in the English – speaking Caribbean and # 8 in the Central America and the Caribbean (COTECC).
On the home front Fabrice has been the recipient of an award from the National Youth Commission for Outstanding Achievements in Tennis.
Credit must be given to the St Vincent and the Grenadine Tennis Association for its continued emphasis on the development of the nation’s youth in the sport of Tennis. The leadership has, over the years, facilitated the organization of several competitions for young players to blood them early for what obtains outside the borders of this country in the sport of their choice.
The many coaches who have been trained over the years have gotten involved in the organization of Tennis Schools of one sort or another, encouraging players to develop their game under guidance.
There is little doubt that Fabrice’s experience at the Bonan Tennis School would have indelibly impacted his love for the game and his growth to his current stature.
No true sportsman could get by without the support of his family. Thankfully the parents of Fabrice has been at his side every step of the way providing the encouragement needed to stick with the pain that comes with rigorous practice.
The family has ensured that the young athlete remains committed to the sport, remains humble and learns to conduct himself with decorum at all times.
They have also had to dig deep into their coffers to meet the expenses associated with a youngster developing rapidly in the game and moving up the ladder in the Caribbean.
Congratulations must therefore be given to the George family for their appreciation of the talent identified in their son for the sport of Tennis and for their great commitment to his pursuit of excellence in it.
Perhaps there are important lessons here for many Vincentian families who seem to think that sport is frivolity and shy away from encouraging and supporting their children when they show interest in sporting endeavours.
Fabrice will this week participate in the 47th Junior Orange Bowl Tennis Championships. He will be the first Vincentian to participate in this particular tournament. That he has been selected directly into the main draw of 125 players from the more than 500 strong participants says much of the weight given to his performances thus far for 2007.
We all do wish Fabrice well in his latest challenge.
Whatever happens in Florida, however, there are major challenges ahead for the young man. Not yet out of the young age grouping Fabrice must now be exposed to higher levels of training. It is at this early stage that talented Tennis players across the world have to make the hard decision on whither their future. Would require more consistent and multi-faceted coaching at a significantly higher level. He has to compete more regularly in ever-higher level competitions under different conditions and circumstances.
Fabrice George is only just beginning.
At his age he has already proven to be a tremendous ambassador for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Thankfully Digicel and more recently the United Bank St Vincent have come to the aid of Fabrice but only to a very limited extent. The costs for his gradual climb up the ladder iof success in tennis is a most costly exercise and the kind of sponsorship required hie yet to come to the fore.
Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines we are prone to declaring our youngsters stars long before they are appropriately exposed to international competition on a consistent basis. Let us not do that with Fabrice. Let us allow the youth to grow in the sport and take his achievements in stride. He must feel the pain of being beaten but must know that we are all there to support his rebound.
He must know that he has the support of all of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Let us seek to aid the family and the local Tennis fraternity in accessing better training opportunities, higher level coaching, experience exposure to better and more consistent competition.
Let us aid in accessing the resources needed to take Fabrice to the next level.
Let us make this a Vincentian effort.