The 2020 Virgin Islands Jr. Fed Cup team recently returned from competition in San Salvador, El Salvador, where the team made a strong showing. The Virgin Islands Tennis Association (VITA) sent the team of three competitors – Lisa Messier (St. Thomas), Malena del Olmo (St. John) and Maykayla Ramos (St. Croix) – to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at the prestigious, international team tennis tournament for young women age 16 and under. Fourteen Caribbean and Central American nations participated in the event.
Alfredo del Olmo, a savvy tennis veteran with substantial international coaching experience, captained the V.I. team. The winner of this qualifying tournament advances to face the United States, Mexico and Canada for the right to play for the world championship.
“We were extremely excited to be in a position to support a group of girls ready to compete on this international level,” said Kelly Kuipers, president of VITA.
The team played a round-robin format for the first three days of the tournament, with two singles matches and one doubles match played against each team. Each match was worth one point. The Virgin Islands squad found the first two days challenging, losing to No. 3 seed Costa Rica 3-0 and No. 5 seed Dominican Republic 3-0. That was the last time the Virgin Islands team would lose.
Now acclimated to playing at high elevation on extremely fast courts, the team prevailed over Honduras 3-0. Maykayla Ramos set the tone for the day with a gritty 7-5; 7-5 singles win over Valeria Suarez, and Malena del Olmo clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Victoria Aparicio. Lisa Messier and Malena del Olmo completed the sweep with a 6-2; 6-1 doubles win over Victoria Aparicio and Fernanda Solis.
With momentum now on their side, the team kept their winning ways going, topping a very game Jamaica squad 3-0. Maykayla Ramos once again led the team with a dominant 6-2; 6-2 singles win over Thandie Sampson, and then it was Lisa Messier’s turn to clinch the victory with a powerful 6-2; 6-2 win over Abigail Pereu. Malena del Olmo and Maykayla Ramos finished the day strong with a 6-2; 6-1 win over Kalila Morris and Thandie Sampson.
With the win over Jamaica, the V.I. team squared off against Suriname on the final day of the tournament for the consolation championship. Malena del Olmo drew first blood with a solid 6-3; 6-2 win over Alia Koorndijk. With the championship now within reach, Lisa Messier struggled with the defensive skills of opponent Jamila Sadiek initially and lost the first set 6-3, but Messier’s previous big-match experience paid off, as she used the set changeover effectively to retool her strategy and stormed back to win the second and third sets 6-0; 6-0, sealing the win, and the consolation championship, for the Virgin Islands.
The tournament is organized by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and is the pre-qualifying six-day, round robin event for Central America and the Caribbean. The team competed against nations of Panama, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Barbados, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and The Bahamas.
The team was sponsored in part by the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee.