This is a moment that Tennis Samoa and Samoa in general can be very proud of.
Eleanor Schuster has been named in the Pacific Oceania Junior Girls Team to compete in the prestigious Junior Federation Cup (JFC) pre-qualifying rounds that will be held in New Delhi, India from the 20 – 25 February 2017.
The last time a Samoan Junior Girl made the Pacific Oceania Team in the JFC was Steffi Carruthers in 2009.
This selection follows on from Eleanor’s last October 2016 when she was invited to play in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) professional circuit Future Stars tournament in Singapore.
Eleanor, who is a Year 9 student at Robert Louis Stevenson Secondary School, qualified to be selected into the Pacific Oceania Team as she is the current Number 1 ranked 14U Girls Champion in the Pacific Oceania region. The team includes Carol Lee from Saipan and Naia Guitton from Tahiti. Eleanor will be helping the Pacific Oceania Team pre-qualify for the remaining two (2) places from the Asia/Oceania zone countries.
The JFC was formerly known as the International Team Competition for players aged 16 & Under and was launched by the ITF in 1985 as the “World Youth Cup” with NEC as the title sponsor between 1988 and 2001. In 2002, the ITF re-branded the girls’ competition to “Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas” in 2006. The top 16 boys’ and girls’ teams from regional qualifying compete for the title with over 100 countries represented in the opening stages of the competition.
The 2016 Finals were held on clay courts at Budapest, Hungary. The current champions for the Junior Davis Cup (JDC) for Boys are Russia and JFC for Girls are Poland. In order to reach the Finals every nation, with the exception of the host nation, must win through regional qualifying. There are five qualification zones: Africa, North/Central America, South America, Europe and Asia/Oceania. In the larger zones there are two rounds of qualification to progress through to the Final.
Eleanor was the Pacific Oceania 12U Girls champion in 2015 and Pacific Oceania 14U Girls Number 1 ranked and current champion from 2016. Eleanor’s achievements culminated in her being crowned as the Vailima Taimua Junior Sportswoman of the Year Award 2016. She credited her success to God, her family, her Apia Protestant Church family and Tennis Samoa Incorporated.
Eleanor has been a product of the Tennis Samoa development program with Tagaloa Yvonne Carruthers which she started when she was 6 years old. Tennis Samoa Vice President June Langton says: “Without this program, we would not have been able to identify Samoa’s future stars in tennis as well as keeping the spirit of tennis alive. The future of tennis lies with the children that are coming through and Eleanor’s continued selection and participation in international events is the encouragement and motivation to all our young players”.
Tennis Samoa has a daily junior program at Apia Park and all are welcome to attend. As for Eleanor and the Pacific Oceania Junior Federation Cup Team, we can only move up from here.