A confident Jamaican team left the island on Sunday afternoon, for the Cayman Islands to compete in the 35th Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championships. They will team up with captain Emily Mayne who is already on location, where they will go through two practice rounds ahead of Wednesday’s start of the championship.
The two coaches, Jonathan Newnham and Jason Lopez were upbeat about the team’s chances to win the championship. According to Newnham “the team is great. We have representation in every category. We have quite a few experienced (players and) most of the team has played there before. We have a few new guys but we have been training with them and welcoming them with open arms so we are looking forward to the challenge. Cayman, I have a lot of personal familiarity with it and the course should be a good fit for our players so I am excited by the challenge ahead.”
“I have strong hopes for all the categories. I think we have a chance to not just win the individual but as we have talked about, try to win the day points-wise and then contend for the overall team championship” said Newnham.
Coach Lopez supported that position when he said “we have a good team so I think that myself and coach Johnny are gonna really do everything we can to get them across the finish line this time.”
Mattea Issa was happy to take on the additional responsibility. “It feels good to be co-captain (and) all the responsibilities that come with it and I am gonna help the team as much as I can to put our best foot forward to try and get the best results possible. As far as competing in the Under 18 age group – the big guns now, being 16 I still have two more years in this age group so I am just hoping to do my best and not think about expectations or pressure and just compete as calmly as possible.”
Samantha Azan is one of two age group defending champions having won the U15 Girls trophy – the Kenneth Francis Trophy last year – first time ever for a Jamaican player. “This is my last year in this category. It was definitely a struggle but I pushed through to the very last hole last time and I know that if I just work hard and keep pushing cause I have been training really hard with my coaches in both Florida and Jamaica so I am pretty confident but then again the course conditions are very different compared to what I am used to so I am gonna do my best and I am not gonna go in with any nerves because I know that If I go in with pressure then it can mess up my mental game and it can stress me out a lot so I am gonna go and relax and hope for the best.”
Davin Hogan, the only new member on team says he is looking forward to the experience. “Yea very much cause I have never done this before and it’ll be new for me and hopefully it’ll be a good experience for everybody.”
The youngest member of the team, Alessandra Coe said “I feel good. I am very excited to represent Jamaica and I am ready.”
Team manager Alison Reid indicated that though not all the age groups have their full complement of players, the team can still go all the way based on the quality of the players. “We have twelve players going. There are two categories that we don’t have a full field – the 15 & Under Boys and the 13 & Under Girls. The entire 18& U category is very strong. We have Rocco Lopez, Ryan Lue, Aman Dhiman, Emily Mayne (18 & U defending champion) and Mattea Issa so we expect good things from that age group. In the 15 & U we have Davin Hogan who is the newest member of our team, Aaron Ghosh and Samantha Azan and Anoushka Khatri. In 13 & U Boys its Kemari Morris – its his last year in 13 & U, Shasa Redlefsen and Alessandra Coe. The boys Kemari and Shasa are pretty strong so we also expect good things from them and Ale will hold her own in the 13 & U Girls.”
The eight competing countries are Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and host country Cayman Islands.