***Sam Philp is a 16 year-old player from England who is currently training at ACE Tennis Cedar Springs with his sister Anna. Sam has recently come back from Jamaica where he participated in the ITF Jamaica Junior Tournament. ONcourt met with Sam to find out about his trip.***
ONcourt: Welcome back home to Canada, Sam. During your 2-weeks stay in Jamaica, what were the biggest differences that you noticed between Jamaica and Canada?
Sam Philp: There was a lot too see in Jamaica, some things that I wasn’t expecting. Going into the capital of Jamaica, I was expecting a very commercial city. What I saw was an extremely industrial city. There were a lot of factories around Kingston and a lot of construction. You could see how hard they’re trying to improve the city. A lot of Kingston is slums, but we’d call them “dodgy” areas. It was a completely different experience. You can easily see that Jamaica has a long way to go to reach the living standards of a country, like Canada.
ONcourt: How did you like Jamaica? What do you think of the country?
Sam Philp: Jamaica is a very nice country, although as I already said, a lot of Kingston is slums with a few nice areas in the hills. While I was there, the climate wasn’t much different from that of Canada, although there were a couple of major rainstorms. I was lucky that I got to visit other areas of Jamaica on a couple of my days off. If you know the right places (luckily, I was with someone who did), you can find a few very nice beaches and very nice areas to spend a day. Overall, I think it’s a very green and pleasant country.
ONcourt: We heard you traveled quite a lot while on tour. What interesting places did you visit and what impressed you most?
Sam Philp: Yes, I often went on a lot of trips with my club in England. I traveled most of Europe: I visited places like Serbia, France, Denmark and Holland. I’ve also travelled to places like Morocco and Turkey with my family. The thing I found most interesting, and especially, travelling within Europe, is the huge difference in culture, and the way a country works and lives everyday life. By flying across a small sea from England to France, you find yourself in a very art dominated culture. England is a lot about industry and efficiency in my opinion, but seeing France is a new world: a lot of buildings are very artistic and include a lot of patterns which is something that England doesn’t possess. I think that’s probably what hit me the most.
ONcourt: Sam, this was your first ITF tournament outside of Canada. How do you feel about your performance?
Sam Philp: I feel that it could’ve gone better, but it was a fairly good performance. In my first match, I probably made it tougher than it should’ve been, but I managed to figure out what I needed to do and the opponent cramped in the third set giving me the win. The second match wasn’t so good. I went out there, and I guess I was a bit nervous. I had already won some ITF points. I think the problem was that although I was playing the third seed, I saw it as a match I could win, and others told me I could win. I went and had a terrible match and unfortunately got injured in the second set, meaning I had to pull out of doubles.
ONcourt: You must have met lots of junior players from other countries. Did you make new friends?
Sam Philp: I’ve met a lot of people that I’m still able to keep in touch with, but the Jamaica tournament was a lot different. I was staying with Doug Burke with 7 other kids in the same house, so it was a very social house, and I met a lot of new friendly people. I also had a friend Simon Levy there who introduced me to a lot of people as well.
ONcourt: What would you say was the most important learning experience that you took home from the trip?
Sam Philp: I think it was definitely seeing the huge difference between the two countries, and how the majority of the population in Jamaica has to live. A lot of the people are extremely nice and extremely upbeat, but you see how they live and what they have to do, and you think: “How are you able to stay so positive?”
ONcourt: What would you say the difference was between you and the players who made it further into the draw?
Sam Philp: I’ve always said that me and everybody I train with are actually not that far off the top players. We’re a lot closer than a lot of them think we are. I wouldn’t really say there was a huge difference. Maybe they’re a bit smarter, maybe they have a bit of a better mental attitude, but all in all, I firmly believe they are beatable players.
ONcourt: What’s next?
Sam Philp: I’m actually playing a few tournaments now. I’m going to the Roman Cup to play the 18’s and the Open, which will hopefully be a lot of fun and a chance to play some new players. Then I have a training week before I go off to play U16 Nationals which I very recently got into. After that we’ll see what comes up I guess.
ONcourt: Thank you Sam and good luck.
Sam Philp: Thanks.