By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
BACK home among family and friends after completing his first semester as a freshman for the Bison men’s tennis team at Howard University, Michael Major Jr is looking forward to displaying his skills at both the Mark Knowles Tennis Cup and the Baldacci Tennis Open.
Major Jr, 17, will be joining Jacobi Bain as two local players who are lined up to compete with a group of international tennis players who will be putting on a show at the Mark Knowles Tennis Cup from Friday to Sunday at the Baha Mar Tennis Club.
A week later, beginning on December 18, Major Jr and Bain are expected to line up to compete in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s year-ending Giorgio Baldacci Tennis Open at the National Tennis Center.
For Major Jr, there’s no greater feeling than being back home, nothing compared to what he went through at school at Howard University.
“I’ve had a good experience so far at school. It’s a lot of nice people, a lot of people encouraging you and a lot of people who are not showing you any hatred, or talking down on your dreams. In terms of tennis, I have a great team around me with a lot of great guys, good coaching staff, good fitness coaches and school wise it’s been going good. I have some really good professors, so I have really been engaging in my classes. It’s been good so far.”
When he returns in January, Major Jr said he’s looking forward to getting on the court and playing in his first official match as a Bison. He spent the past four months just going through the formalities and getting used to his new environment.
“I’m looking forward to going back and competing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing with my team.”
But now that he’s back home, Major, the son of Bernadette ‘Chips’ and Michael Major Sr, admitted that there’s no place like home.
“While I’m here, I will be training and working out
and spending time with my family and friends,” said Major Jr, who will take his final exam here at home online.
The 6-foot-two-inch Major Jr said if there’s anything he missed about home, it was the food.
“Being away from home for about four months, being back around my family and friends, you get to appreciate the small little things that you took for granted when you were at home,” he stated. “So it’s just nice to be surrounded by my family and friends.”
As he prepares to get on the court here this weekend, Major Jr said he’s delighted to have been afforded another opportunity by Bahamian tennis icon Mark Knowles to participate in his international event.
“Being able to play with such huge figures in the game of tennis is a great feeling,” Major Jr said. “Just being able to step on the court and be around such great people is just an amazing feat.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it and I’m just going to go out there and do what I always do and that is play tennis.”
Major Jr, who benefitted from the Mark Knowles Foundation, allowing him to complete his final two years in high school at the Windsor High School as a part of the Albany Tennis Academy, said he will forever be grateful to Knowles.
“It feels great to have someone like him recognise the talent for such a long time. They have been helping us out as long as I could remember,” Major Jr pointed out. “It’s just a great feeling to have someone like him helping out.
“He’s already been at the top of the game and now he’s helping us out. It’s good to have someone like him who believes in you. I’m just happy for the experience and the exposure that I got from him.”
Hopefully, Major Jr said he would like to follow in Knowles’ footsteps, representing the country at the prestigious Davis Cup.
He first has to go through the qualifying process that starts with the Giorgio Baldacci National Open where he will compete against some of the top players in the country.
“I’m looking forward to competing with the guys, I know there’s going to be some strong competition, but I feel as though I’m ready,” he said. “With the college tennis I’ve experienced so far, it has taught me how to adapt and to find a way when there’s no way.
“So I am looking forward to competing and to see how far I can go. I just have to use all of my skills mentally and physically, but I think I can get it done.”
The Bisons, coached by Nicholas Askew, will begin their season on Major Jr’s return to Howard University in January. They play out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).