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Bascome recognised for dedication

Photograph by Bermuda Lawn Tennis AssociationProud moment: Bascome, the island’s top-ranked doubles player, is presented with his award at the WER Joell Tennis Stadium. Also pictured are John Goede, of the ITF, BLTA tennis director Ricky Mallory, and BLTA president Michael Wolfe

Jensen Bascome made history this week after becoming the first Bermudian tennis player to receive the Davis Cup Commitment Award.

The island’s top-ranked doubles player received the award for his longstanding dedication to representing Bermuda in the prestigious competition at a special awards ceremony held at the WER Joell Stadium this week.

Bascome, who is ranked No 2 locally in singles, met the criteria for the award after making his 50th Davis Cup appearance against Guatemala at last year’s tournament in Panama.

“It’s definitely an honour to receive the award and I truly feel blessed to have had the opportunity to represent Bermuda in such a prestigious event that many times,” Bascome said.

“I don’t know if people can really appreciate the type of award it is, but it’s been a process and I just thank everyone who has helped me throughout my tennis career from my parents, to my coaches, to my team-mates.”

The award was conceived as part of the ITF’s 2013 Centenary celebrations and was launched at the 100th Davis Cup Final in 2012. Each award recipient must have competed in a minimum of 20 home or away ties or 50 ties at any level of the competition and are recognised on an honours board at the ITF headquarters and on the official Davis Cup website.

Bascombe’s name is now posted on the ITF website along with other recipients of this award, including John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer to name a few.

“This is the first commitment award for Bermuda, and hopefully the first of many for our island,” Bascome said.

“It’s truly an honour to get to this point and hopefully it inspires others to press on and continue to try and push Bermuda tennis to higher heights.”

Bascome made his Davis Cup debut in 1999 at age 20 in Trinidad and Tobago, playing his first match for Bermuda against Barbados.

Now 36, he is trying to retain his place on spot on Bermuda’s team for this year’s Davis Cup competition.

“I’m still motivated to play and still feel like I have a lot to offer the team, both on and off the court,” Bascome said.

“My body is telling me I can still do it and I still have the desire and dedication, and that’s why I continue to do it.”

Among those attending Wednesday’s awards ceremony were International Tennis Federation representative John Goede, Michael Wolfe, the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association president, and Ricky Mallory, the BLTA’s national tennis director.

Wolfe presented the player with the award and thanked him for his “continued efforts in the competition and for bringing along the next generation of players”.

“He continues to be a role model for players and he is an example of an athlete that continues to give back to the sport,” Wolfe said.

Mallory, who has played alongside and coached Bascome in the Davis Cup, said the award “is a testament to his commitment to the sport and passion for excellence”.

n Bermuda’s Under-14 squad nearly pulled off an upset in their opening group B tie at the International Tennis Federation World Junior Tennis tournament in El Salvador yesterday.

The three-member squad were pipped by eighth-seeded Nicaragua in the best-of-three series, played on the hard surface at the Federación Salvadorena de Tenis.

Unseeded Bermuda started on the back foot after No 2 player Benjamin Jones lost the opening singles match against Ronny Hernandez 6-2, 6-0.

However, Ricky Mallory Jr, Bermuda’s No 1 player, levelled the tie after coming from behind to beat Etienne Dietsch 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the remaining singles match to set up a winner-takes-all in the deciding doubles match.

Mallory and Jones got off to a flyer after taking the opening set in the doubles match 6-1.

But the local pair were unable to finish off their opponents in straight sets after Nicaragua won the second set 6-4 to send the tie to a super tie-breaker, which they ultimately won 10-6.

Afterwards, Gavin Manders, the Bermuda coach, said: “It was a great experience for us, full of ups and downs.

Bermuda face Bahamas in their second match today.