Under the watchful eyes of renowned tennis coach Bill Adams, Guyanese teenage tennis prodigy Nicola Ramdyhan is developing her skills in Florida, USA.
At 19, Ramdyhan, who stands levels above most of her peers on the local scene, is presently harnessing her talent at Bill Adams International Tennis Academy. She is the first female Guyanese to make it to this platform and the second from the Land of Many Waters after Duanne Lewis created history over a decade ago.
The former student of St Joseph’s and Bishops’ High Schools made it to the Academy after her ability and potential first caught Adams’ attention during the Trinidad & Tobago International Tennis Federation (ITF) world ranking tournament (2015), where she competed against Annaelle Roch from Guadeloupe who was training and living at the Academy in Florida.
“I was so impressed with her ability that I assessed she should have won the match; the only difference was that Roch was training five hours per day in Florida. I think that continuing the strict regimen on which she has embarked, Nicola had the possibility of becoming a good division 1 player; this could be a good proving ground for further tennis endeavours. To date, she has discovered muscles she never thought she had. Seriously, she is handling the challenge with the true grit of a young Guyanese athlete when given an opportunity – attentive, gracious and like a sponge, absorbing it all.”
And even though her historical progress has gone unnoticed there, for the Sheltez Tennis Club player, she has created a platform that other Guyanese, in particular females, could try to emulate.
Breaking onto the scene at the tender age of seven, Ramdyhan found inspiration mainly in her mom, Shelly Daly-Ramdyhan, who was a national tennis champion.
During Daly-Ramdyhan’s training days at Nonpareil (national racket centre), Ramdyhan would usually go with her and just fool around with her mom and that was how she developed a love for the sport.
Her fierceness came along due to witnessing the hard work her mother displayed every time she trained and competed. Thus, Ramdyhan wanted to follow in her mother’s shadow. She performed her first national duty at 11 and, at present, she is beyond a door that her mom never had the opportunity to enter.
However, it should be no surprise to those who are acquainted with Ramdyhan that her strong forearm plays, consistent serves and agility have gotten her beyond previous expectations, especially if they witnessed her performance during the Tennis Inter-Guiana Games in French Guiana last year. It was inconceivable; of the Guyanese players, she was unstoppable, unbeatable and superb in her singles and double matches. In fact, she was the only Guyanese player, male or female, to play unbeaten in the tournament as she won her six clashes – three singles and three doubles.
Even though she was outstanding in Cayenne, it is not at the pinnacle of her performances to date, at least, not in her opinion.
According to Ramdyhan, the best part of her career so far was when she participated in the junior Fed Cup in 2012. Although she was the youngest at the tournament, her performance proved that she could match the better players. Not surprising at all since the greatest moments of most champions’ careers are those that went unnoticed to the spectators but are recognisable by the professionals.
Guyana Lawn Tennis Association (GLTA) President Jamal Goodluck described Ramdyhan as a model of striking tennis with work and someone the other children can take pattern from. He said he was proud of the hard work she has put into her tennis to take her to this point in her journey.
Goodluck further stated that this opportunity in particular was a good one that gave her the exposure that is needed as well as building that bridge for others to cross into the foreign tennis academy. “Bill Adams, a top-level Guyanese coach, has been helpful in giving input in nurturing our talent. This is the beginning of building a sustainable partnership with expertise to aid the development of our tennis.”
Participation at the Bill Adams Academy has seen the rise of Gabriella Bochiero, ranked 115 in WTA; Johnnise Renaud, ranked 26 in ITF world junior rankings and currently number one at Georgia Technical College, and Andrea Ramynse, ranked number one at UCLA and number one for US girls 18s.
And currently Alana Smith, who is ranked number 127 in ITF world junior rankings is attending the Academy.
“So far, the training at the Academy has been intense since the amount of training differs from that in Guyana. I have to push myself further so I can be able to meet to the level of the other players that are in the Academy,” Ramdyhan detailed.
Although she possesses potential to elevate to the highest level, her focus is not solely there as she plans to pursue her studies at university level and play college tennis.
In 2014, Ramdyhan graduated from St Joseph’s High with seven Grade Ones and four Grade Twos at CSEC. Subsequently, she graduated from Bishops’ High with one Grade One, one Grade Two and three Grade Threes at CAPE Unit One and one Grade One, 3 Grade Twos and 1 Grade Three.
Justifying her love for the sport!
She says if she is to have a second shot at life, tennis would again be at the top of her agenda, but from a younger age and playing many more tournaments.
Ramdyhan’s achievement should be highlighted in all areas of Guyana. Hers should be a household name in Guyana. In a sport that is not in the mainstream locally, Ramdyhan managed to achieve great progress.
Today, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day under the theme, “Women in the Changing World of Work : Planet 50-50 by 2030”, <<<Guyana Times>>> is pleased to recognise teenage tennis ace Nicola Ramdyhan.
In a special message for younger girls, Ramdyhan said: “I would like to encourage other girls to take part in any sport, because it helps to improve self-esteem, keep them socially active and it prepares them mentally and physically for everyday challenge.”