Luca del Olmo, above, takes a swing during the recent ITF tournament in Santo Domingo, where he was one of three boys who represented the Virgin Islands.
Budding Virgin Islands tennis stars volleyed with the best players from across the Caribbean at a week-long International Tennis Federation tournament in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic March 14 through 19.
With coach and captain Alfredo del Olmo, Luca del Olmo from St. John and Jordan Lawrence and Julian Di Persio from St. Croix competed in the Davis Cup format tournament for boys under 14, a pre-qualifier for the World Junior Tennis Competition.
A 13-year-old Gifft Hill School student, del Olmo faced players from 21 Caribbean and Central American countries hailing from Aruba to Surinam during the tournament.
While the home team of Dominican Republic won the tournament, del Olmo took home something more precious than a trophy.
“The whole experience was amazing,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. Here in the Virgin Islands there aren’t that many kids who play tennis.”
“There were 70 kids all my age all playing tennis at the tournament,” del Olmo said. “We had breakfast, lunch and dinner together. I have a lot of new Facebook friends.”
The teenage tennis players faced off across the net three times each day, with the first racket playing singles, the second racket playing singles and then the two playing a doubles match. Lawrence was the first racket, del Olmo the second racket and Di Persio was the third racket.
While the Virgin Islands didn’t rack up many points during the tournament, Alfredo del Olmo enjoyed hearing other coaches compliment his team.
“To me the most important thing about the week was the compliments from other coaches,” said the V.I. Tennis Association board member. “They all said that our players had the best attitude. They were really good sports and were very supportive of all of the players.”
While awaiting the next ITF tournament, del Olmo regularly travels to St. Croix and Puerto Rico with other VITA players to compete in tournaments.
The del Olmos thanked Patrice Harley for her support of tennis on St. John as well as Ed Oldfield, who trains the boys twice a week, and VITA president William McComb.
Del Olmo practices daily as he sets his sights on becoming the next Juan Martin del Potro. Luca del Olmo’s little brother Tomas is also an up-and-coming tennis star and hoping to qualify as one of the rackets representing the Virgin Islands in the under 12 ITF tournament in July in El Salvador.