The Junior Philanthropists of St. Thomas held their first annual Youth 4 Youth Junior Tennis Tournament over the holiday weekend, which brought out 64 competitors from throughout the territory.
The initial idea for the event came from club president Nicholas Midler, a seventh grader at Antilles School, who has also volunteered, along with his friends, to run the event and advertise it.
“This year the children wanted to do this tournament, so what’s great about it is that is an event thought up by children, for children, in order to gain money for other children,” Midler’s mother, Monica Midler, said Monday.
The Junior Philanthropists is a non-profit set up by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for children under 18 years of age, and each year, its members sit down to generate ideas for fundraisers that would raise enough money for children’s programming, or youth oriented projects, throughout the Virgin Islands.
Midler added, “We had a fantastic turn out for the competition, with 64 participants from St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, and I think it’s going to be close to $10,000 that we would have raised from the event.”
Junior Philanthropist members will have to sit down afterward to discuss how to spend the money they’ve raised Midler said.
Additional support for the event came from first lady Cecile deJongh, who Monica Midler said has been inspiring younger athletes to pick up the sport through her Tennis in the Parks and Schools Program (TIPS).
During this year’s Youth 4 Youth tournament, Quick Start tennis equipment was provided for the younger players, as well as shortened courts and low compression tennis balls. DeJongh has continued to provide free equipment to V.I. public schools through the TIPS initiative, which has helped to introduce tennis instruction at elementary schools throughout the territory.
“Because of the first lady’s program, we have got a lot of enthusiastic younger players coming up in the Virgin Islands, so we are seeing some really good talent here, and also a high turnout in the older brackets with the 18-year-old and 16-year-old players,” Monica Midler said about this year’s tournament.
Winners received trophies and ribbons, which deJongh was on hand to award to the younger competitors.
“In working with the schools and community organizations, such as Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, the Junior Philanthropists of St. Thomas, and other public and private sector partners, we continue building widespread interest in the sport throughout the territory,” deJongh said.
“We hope to continue the momentum and build on the popularity of the sport in the years to come,” deJongh added. “With more special projects in the works, such as resurfacing older courts and building new ones, there is a lot to be excited about.”
Major sponsors of the event included FirstBank, Standard Pacific Capital Holdings LLLP, Caribbean Education Initiative and Tim Duncan, Seaborne Airlines, Viking Corporation, and JAMZ 105 FM.
This year’s winners were:
- Boys 8 and under: Gabriel Louis (1st place), Eion Roberts (runner up)
- Girls 8 and under: Alexandra Midler, (1st place), Zara Shapiro (runner up)
- Boys 10 and under: Kevin Hughes II (1st place), Xavier Richardson (runner up)
- Girls 10 and under: Chloe Coffindaffer (1st place), Alexandra Midler (runner up)
- Boys 12 and under: Aaron Potts (1st place), Jaydon Jacobs (runner up)
- Girls 12 and under: Macay Wardius (1st place), Julia August (runner up)
- Boys 14 and under: Wilbur Williams (1st place), Daniel Knot (runner up)
- (There was no Girls 14 and under category)
- Boys 16 and under: Leonardo King (1st place), Wilbur Williams (runner up)
- Girls 16 and under: Cassandra Knot (1st place), Sophie Bartlet (runner up)
- Boys 18 and under: Nkosi Jones (1st place), Nicholas Gartner (runner up)
- Girls 18 and under: Mariah Wardius (1st place), Cajay Jacobs (runner up)