Apr 28, 2021 Sports
‘Collage Tennis is very tough’ says Gentle
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News – Along with Nicola Ramdyhan and Hemraj Resaul, Afruica Gentle is presently one of three Guyana tennis players in the USA on Sports/Academics Scholarships.
The Nineteen-year-old Afruica is attending the Coppin State University in the United States of America and will be Majoring in Criminal Justice and Safety Studies and Minor in Urban Recreation.
“Starting off it was not what I expected just coming out of the quarantine I had to play some tough matches against top players. It was hard for me.
Knowing the level that I had to get to was frustrating, but the exposure to that standard was good for me. For the Fall of 2021 there are a lot of good things in store for me but I can’t really say more since it’s not official yet. The experience here has been great, it’s a really good HPCU and the Coaches are very effective and everything is going well,” informed Afruica.
Afruica is scheduled to return to Guyana in December although she had planned to come home for a short period this summer but due to personal issues, she won’t be able to do so.
The multitalented 19-year-old explained that the Covid-19 pandemic has not really affected tournaments much in that part of America.
“Coppin State University is a part of the Mid Eastern Atlantic Conference so as other schools across America, we have different Conferences and so as to minimise the chance of contracting or spreading Covid among Athletes from the different Universities, we have to test three times per week and are asked to keep within the boundaries of our team and not to associate with people outside of our team,” said Afruica, who attended the Apex Education and Mae’s School.
Afruica informed that all of the Athletes live on Campus but are allowed to go outside.
“We can go outside but we can’t go to Restaurants and sit and eat as usual and go in public places with other people and have a good time, take off your mask or take pictures in public because we don’t know who has the virus,” the big hitting tennis player revealed.
Afruica also added that as the season has ended, the players had the opportunity to take the Vaccine since it was available to them and some of them did. The Guyanese lass informed that she has already taken her first dose (last week Sunday) and is scheduled to have the second one on May 9.
Pressed for her thoughts and suggestions on what should be done by the recently elected Cristy Campbell Administration to lift the standard of Tennis in Guyana, Afruica said that a few main things are needed to be done.
“There is the need for more facilities for more tennis to played and interest in sports, which never happened with the past Government. However, there are changes now and with the support shown in the development of local sports by the new Minister of Sports Charles Ramson Junior, things are looking better for tennis in Guyana.
The GTA intends to reach out to not just those in Georgetown but also aims to have tennis played in more parts of the Country so more talent can be found,” continued Afruica, a member of the Roraima Tennis Club.
“We need to invest in the Junior players coming up now…invest in the grass roots level just like we had when I was playing in the under-10s when we had what you would call a Junior series. We would play on the weekends and from that you would scout players for the National programme to get their skill up to a level that they can compete and play in more Junior tournaments when they are available again after Covid,” posited Afruica, who also played women’s cricket for Guyana.
“I just don’t think that tennis should be for the juniors alone. There a lot of adults out there who would like to play tennis and there should be programmes for them. I enjoy playing with Adults…its fun,” said the teenager.
Asked about what she has befitted from this programme and how she plans to use what she has learnt abroad to help Tennis in her homeland, Afruica said she would love to come back home and share what she has learnt with the juniors whenever she get the chance to be in Guyana.
“Tennis is not just physical, it’s also mental and you just have to get junior players to have a different mind-set of seeing tennis at one level and thinking that at that level they are the best. But they should be encouraged to want to get better and know there are higher heights to be reached. I try to help them to develop as best as I can,” said Afruica, who explained that Collage tennisis a lot more ‘mental’ than in Guyana.
“Its way more mental than I thought… I would say it’s ninety percent mental and 10 percent physical because you can be winning a match and make simple mistakes because of the mental pressure. We have a saying here …welcome to college tennis, it’s not easy.
You have opponents who can throw you off your game easily and make it very hard for you to get back in the game if you don’t focus. I have had experiences when I could not get back in the game.
At times I cried, it was so terrible, just because I was not mentally there. You have to learn very fast about mental toughness. Here is very different, since just as I am here on a scholarship, there are players from all around the world bringing their experiences and everybody wants to win. So it is very tough,” concluded Afruica.
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