Stephens leaves on scholarship
Michaela Stephens, Jamaica's top female tennis player, and who at 14 years of age is one of Jamaica's brightest tennis prospects, left Jamaica on Wednesday for the Ace Tennis Academy in Burlington, Canada, on a three-month scholarship designed to hone her skills and prepare her for international competition later this year.
Douglas Burke, the former technical director at Tennis Jamaica and now the president of the academy, made the offer to Stephens on a visit to Jamaica last year.
Burke said then that he was so impressed with Stephens, who is both the female junior and senior champion in Jamaica, after seeing her play last year, that he not only gave her some tennis lessons, but decided to invite her to the academy in Canada for specialised training.
"I was impressed with how Michaela had improved since I last saw her, and I am sure that with the proper training, she can go very far in this sport," he said then.
Stephens told STAR Sports that she was thrilled by the invitation.
"I want to be a professional tennis player and be the first female from Jamaica to play at Wimbledon, so this will help me to get there," she said, adding that she is looking forward to the opportunity and will be working very hard.
"I will do whatever he tells me to do, as I want to get better."
Stephens, who is a student at Liberty Academy in St Andrew, said arrangements have been made for her to continue her school work by way of the Internet.
"It will be difficult to keep up with both, but I will be doing my best to be successful," she stated.