Lewis serves notice
13-year-old tennis star breaks into Commonwealth Games team
Jamaica's contingent to this year's staging of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, includes 13-year-old Dadrian Lewis, the youngest athlete ever to represent the proud nation at the event in any discipline. The Jamaica Observer understands that the Wolmerian second-former, who won the national women's senior table tennis title this past weekend, and who is a member of the Angels Table Tennis Academy, is the youngest athlete ever to represent Jamaica at such a large-scale international meet. She will represent Jamaica in table tennis, and expressed pride in being among the 114-member team.
"In making the team I feel very proud to be the youngest person representing my country at such a big event internationally," young Lewis told the Observer.
Excited about the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Lewis, the national Under-15 and Under-18 table tennis champion, admitted she has high hopes while expecting the championships to be a memorable and fulfilling experience.
"Well, I expect us to go there and do our best and take home some medals and trophies, hopefully making Jamaica proud," she said.
Lewis, who acknowledged the fact that she will be competing against seniors from other nations, said, "I'm really nervous, especially that I will be up against older competitors, but my teammates are my motivation, so I will be playing just as hard."
Someone who knows this precocious youngster well is her coach and director of the Angels Table Tennis Academy, Richard Davidson, and he told the Observer that he has no doubts about his athlete.
"At just 13 years old she's pretty talented, I'm really expecting her to execute what I've taught her over the years and what she knows, because she has a very strong mindset and performs professionally when she's on-court," bragged Davidson.
He added: "I'm expecting her to do well and gain some experience from the games, though this would be her second trip overseas representing Jamaica."
The young phenomenon, who became the third youngest national women's senior champion behind Joy Foster (eight years old) and Yvonne Foster (11 years old), has been competing in the discipline since her days at St Catherine Preparatory.
She explained that table tennis was a hobby for her when she was first introduced to it at age nine, and the sport grew with her under the tutelage of Davidson.
"I've been with her from grass-roots days and she's very talented and has continuously displayed the same quality of talent over the years, so the sky is the limit for her. I just need, as the coach, to keep her focused and I'm sure you will hear more about her in the future," added Davidson.
"I've been witnessing Dadri grow in the sport, and honestly, to see her accomplish all that she has at such a young age, is quite remarkable. In fact, it's like watching Yvonne Foster compete all over again. I remember last year's national trials where she beat Shenique Clare, who was one of the leading players at the time, and she has done just that this year again," noted Paulton Madden, a national table tennis representative.
The XX Commonwealth Games will take place from July 23 to August 3, and will see competition in over 17 disciplines. Lewis is slated to compete in the women's doubles event.