TENNIS 2016 Junior Female champion Afruica Gentle wants nothing more than to see tennis in Guyana take off and reach higher heights. She sees a lot of potential in herself and her fellow players, and looks forward to the day when tennis in Guyana gets some good recognition. “There’s a lot of raw talent in tennis in Guyana. The athletes just need better tennis facilities in order to move forward,” the Inter Guiana Games Girls’ Under-18 champion said candidly earlier this week.“The athletes just need to be more determined and focused on making it to the international spotlight,” She added.Having started playing tennis herself at just four years old, Afruica is head over heels in love with the sport.“I like playing tennis because when I am on the court I can forget about everything and focus on myself,” said the Mae’s School third form student.Afruica GentleShe’s following right in the footsteps of big sister Shawna Gentle, who, at the peak of her game, was Guyana’s top female junior player. Shawna raked in title after title, and hardly ever lost on the local scene. Afruica is doing just that. It was Shawna and her many wins that inspired Afruica to get involved.“I started playing because I saw my sister playing and found an interest in the sport,” Afruica said.Just last week Afruica was awarded the title as the 2016 Junior Female Tennis Champion by the Guyana Tennis Association (GLTA) at the body’s annual award ceremony. The award of course was for Afruica’s great performances through the 2016 season.Last year the 15-year-old won a tall order of titles including being the youngest person to be champion of the GBTI Open ladies’ singles. She’s also the reigning ladies’ doubles champion, a title she shares with Senior Female 2016 Champion Cristy Campbell. She shared the mixed doubles win with Senior Male 2016 Champion Anthony Downes.She won the mixed title in the Trophy Stall Doubles tournament.But before she’s a player, she’s a student. As hard as being an athlete is in Guyana, being a student athlete is even more challenging. There’s the training, the schoolwork, and then of course the lessons.“Well, it’s a bit hard sometimes because when I want to focus on tennis I have to remember that I still need to produce good grades’ but I’m still always focused on being the number one player.” Afruica happily explained.