By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#PHILIP Major Jr and Danielle Thompson are expected to be the top Bahamian male and female players competing in the Goombay Splash Bowl, an IAAF World ranking junior tournament, that is all set to be staged at the National Tennis Center, starting with the qualifying round on Saturday.
#The tournament, hosted by the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA), is not expected to have as large a field of top players from around the world as a number of them have been accepted into the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships that will be played at the same time at the USA Bradenton in Bradenton, Florida.
#Their absence, according to tournament director Bradley Bain, should open the door for the Bahamian players to excel.
#“I have some really high expectations for our local kids because we have so many of them, in terms of the boys, who will be playing in what is not typically a very strong field,” Bain said. “The highest ranked player coming in is in the 400-plus. We usually have players in the top 200.
#“But we are going head to head with the Eddie Herr Tournament, which is probably the second largest junior tournament in the world and probably the latest one when you have them split up into two groups. So a lot of the players got accepted into Eddie Herr and they accepted to go there instead of coming here.”
#With what could be considered a “weaker” field, Bain said the Bahamian players should be able to raise to the top or at least make an impression.
#Jose Pablo Gil of Costa Rica has the highest ranking of 465 in the boys’ field. He is followed by Filip Obucina of Canada at 607 and Yannik James of Grenada at 686. Rounding out the top five are Canadians Robert Shulman at 733 and Phillippe Courteau at 795.
#Philip Major Jr, fast becoming one of the top players on the local scene, heads the list of male players with the sixth best ranking of 885. He is joined by two other Bahamians in the top 22. They are PJ Major and Justin Higgs, who are pegged at No.1572 and No.1688 for 21st and 22nd respectively.
#On the female side, Mexican Cassansra Vazquez has a one-point ranking at No.403 to lead the field. She is followed closely by American Rianna Valdes at No.404. The Americans occupy the next five spots with Alxandra Bourguigon (436), Olivia Huager (477), Ines Karmen (498) and Caroline Turner (664).
#Danielle Thompson sits in the seventh spot with her ranking of 704. Four other Bahamians are in the top 22nd with Erin Strachan at No.1698, Dominique Mortier at No.1785 and Chelsi Russell and Adrienne D’Alewyn in the 21st and 22nd spots without a ranking.
#“Philip Major Jr will get a seeding because he’s in the top eight, which means that he should at least get into the quarter-final,” Bain said. “He has been away training, so my expectations is that he’s coming into the tournament in great shape, so I expect him to do very well with the level of competition.
#“PJ Major has always been playing very well in a number of ITF junior tournaments and so I just look for our boys to do very well. In our past experiences, we had one or two players that may do well. But I think we have sufficient players in this year’s tournament and so we should see more Bahamians advancing.”
#As for the girls, Bain said Danielle Thompson is “coming off an unbelievable summer” and will be a seeded player.
#“In addition to Danielle Thompson, Erin Strachan has been playing very well. She’s won two USTA events since going to an academy in September.
#“She’s doing well. We can only have four girls in the main draw of the 18s singles, so I look for Danielle, Erin and Dominique Mortier to do very well.”
#As the norm with every such junior tournament, Bain said the BLTA will also host a COTECC Under-14 boys and girls round robin tournament where some of the top Bahamian players will be on display.
#“That’s our next level of players moving into the 18s ranks, so it would be good to see how well they perform in the 14s,” Bain said. “We have some pretty good players, not just from the Bahamas, but around the world competing in this division as well. So it should be an exciting tournament.”
#Starting 9am Saturday, the boys and girls will be playing in the qualifying round of the 18s singles for the rights to secure one of the top four spots to get into the main draw play that is slated to begin on Monday. The 14s will be divided into pools to play in a round robin tournament where the top eight advance to the main draw and the bottom eight go into the consolation round.
#The ITF supervisor for the tournament is Mickey Williams, who has served in that capacity in a number of events at the NTC.