Tennis players hit the road on Bermuda Day for aspiring professional Daniel Phillips
Twenty of the island’s tennis players will hit the road on Bermuda Day when they compete in the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby to raise funds in support of one of their own, Daniel Phillips, who is pursuing his dreams of turning professional.
Gavin Manders, one of the island’s top players, came up with the idea of running in the Bermuda Day race from Somerset to Bernard Park. The response has been great with four relay teams of four and four individuals to run the full course signed up to participate.
“Twenty of us are running to raise funds for Daniel in his quest to get into the top 100 in the world,” said Manders, who will be running 13.1 miles, along with Bermuda No 1 Tariq Simons, Neal Towlson, of Coral Beach Club, and Romar Douglas, of Grotto Bay.
“It’s pretty much the No 1 and No 2 player in every age division who are coming together. Four are running the full race, including myself, pretty much Bermuda coming together to support Daniel who is away on the ITF Junior circuit.
“Initially I was going to run for him by myself, but some of the other players came on board and it continued to grow through the Manders Tennis Management academy kids.”
Manders added: “I worked closely with him, been a part of his coaching team, his mom and I are close and I’ve been in his shoes where you need to get to these competitions to get the ranking points that you need.”
The former Bermuda No 1 has run the derby race before and is looking forward to putting on his running shoes to help a fellow tennis player.
“Tariq, the No 1 player in Bermuda, will be running for Daniel who is No 359 in juniors and hopefully he’ll be playing Davis Cup for us this year,” Manders explained.
“All the local tennis players are coming out to raise funds for somebody they believe in. Most of them are high-ranked players, No 1 and No 2 players across the board in under-12s, under-14s, under-16s, under-18s and adult.
“We’re coming out for somebody who is one of our own. We want him to have the opportunity to play the tournaments that are necessary to rise up in the rankings and he needs Bermuda’s help.”
Manders added: “We know that we can do our part; hopefully a corporation or an individual can come on board and help him in his quest to get into the top 100. Hopefully, he can rise up the rankings and play in the junior grand slam next year.”
Phillips, 17, has made tremendous sacrifices over the past few years in order to pursue his tennis aspirations, including putting college on hold for the time being. It is a well thought-out plan that has included time spent at the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy in Spain and now in his present base in Delray Beach, Florida.
“The plan that we've made is to facilitate me to go pro,” Phillips told The Royal Gazette recently while in Bermuda on a short break from the junior circuit.
“Now I'm playing ITF juniors, if I get into the top 100, I’ll be able to get junior wild cards or exclusions into Futures tournaments, which then leads to pro points and money tournaments. These will then generate me from Futures to Challengers, then to the ATP circuit.
“The talk about university has been that it's always there if pro doesn't work out or if I'm just wanting to try something new with my life; university will always be there.”
Relay teams: Denzel Hollis, Jon Brunson, Jovan Whitter, Mackai Whitter.
Dexter Snaith, Jaden Jones, Raul Maldonado, Tristan Petit.
AJ Phillips, Vinny Boisvert, Charlotte Lessage/Nadhira Durham, Zander Rafferty.
Sebastian Pukke, Zach McGuire, Alex Lefebvre, Cyre Trott.
Individual runners: Gavin Manders, Tariq Simons, Neal Towlson, Romar Douglas.
• Anyone interested in making a donation to registered charity No 2136 can do so through HSBC bank to beneficiaries Sarah A. Fellows and Daniel Phillips at account number 002199156011. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for any other information