Photo: Young Kaiel Casserly receives a Babolat tennis racket from World 100m Champion Yohan Blake during a handing over ceremony at Tennis Jamaica headquarters on Wednesday. The Jamaican track and field star made a donation of rackets for junior tennis players through his YB Afraid Foundation. In the background from left to right: Nigel Casserly (Director at Tennis Jamaica), Leroy Brown and Aswad Morgan (1st VP at Tennis Jamaica).
Jamaica’s 2011 World Champion over 100m, Yohan Blake gave the island’s youth tennis program a huge shot in the arm when he donated a large number of Babolat tennis rackets (the same brand used by Rafael Nadal) to the local governing body, Tennis Jamaica, at their head quarters on Wednesday.
A number of junior players from Wolmers Boys school and Mannings Hill Primary school were on hand to receive the generous donation from Blake who was able to deliver the gifts though his YB Afraid Foundation.
“I planned this (donation) for the Christmas but most of the gifts reached late. I watch a lot of tennis, Serena (Williams), (Victoria) Azarenka, (Rafa) Nadal…I’m not just only into one sport, I am into every sport,” Blake told reporters at the handing over ceremony, as he explained the donation to tennis and not track and field, for which he is world renowned.
A shy and soft spoken Teresha Lee Thompson of Mannings Hill Primary engulfed Blake with a huge bear hug and refused to let him go. She told Yardie Sports, “I am a big fan of Yohan Blake since I saw him on tv. When I go back to school I am going to tell my friends that I saw Yohan Blake and I was very happy to meet him.”
A grateful Andre Elliott, tennis coach at the Mannings Hill Primary School, was overwhelmed by the gifts his school received.
“We have a core of tennis players at Mannings Hill Primary that I think is second to none in the island, but the challenge has always been for us, how are we going to maintain the sort of talent that we have especially with some of them going into the high school system?
“We don’t have a competition at the primary level so this contribution from the Yohan Blake Foundation will really help us to maintain the sort of talent that we have. The students are happy, they are elated and we look forward to developing our program some more now that we have the injection of this equipment.”
Aswad Morgan, First Vice President of Tennis Jamaica, is certain that the donation will have a massive impact on local junior tennis.
“This donation of the Babolat high performance tennis rackets is going to make a huge difference to the development of these young, talented junior players. With any sport you have to have the right tools to get out and compete and these Babolat rackets are top of the line. I am sure we will have a few kids improving their game and elevating themselves to a much higher level, it is going to make a huge difference,” he assured.
Other schools that were not present at the hand over but have tennis programmes, will also be benefitting from the donation.