Jamaica's Bicknell targets rise in world tennis rankings
BICKNELL...now I can play as many tournaments as I want and, hopefully, by this time next year I can be in the Grand Slam tournament (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

National senior tennis player Blaise Bicknell says he is fully focused on improving his International Tennis Federation (ITF) world rankings this year now that he has finished his first college degree.

Bicknell, 21, recently graduated from the University of Tennessee in the United States with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a minor in tourism.

He made it to the semi-finals of last weekend's ITF Men's 1500 Future Tournament in Alabama in his first professional tournament since graduating from college earlier this month.

Bicknell, ranked 832 in the world, defeated the American Tristan McCormick, who is ranked 553, in the quarter-finals of the tournament. However, he lost 6-2,6-7, 1-6 to China's Fnu Nidunjianzan in the semis.

Bicknell told the Jamaica Observer from his base in the United States that a major aim is to progress to his first-ever Grand Slam tournament next year.

"Now there are no limitations to what you can do...now I can play as many tournaments as I want and, hopefully, by this time next year I can be in the Grand Slam tournament," said Bicknell.

"Yes, the aim is to move up in the rankings because I know that I have the ability to do it and I believe in myself and I have been training very hard, so it is quite possible," he said.

"I have a very good physical trainer with me in Chris Paul and so I am very fit and my game has been improving a lot and so you can expect a lot from me moving forward this year," Bicknell stated.

The lanky player, who is Jamaica's number one tennis player, said he was pleased with his performance in last weekend's tournament because it was his first competition as a full professional player. "I am a professional player now and I am expecting great things moving forward. It was a successful tournament for me because I made it to the semi-finals and so I felt very good about that," he said.

"I defeated the number two seeded player who is ranked 553 in the world and so that was a big plus for me also too," Bicknell pointed out.

He is scheduled to represent Jamaica at the Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador, starting next month, as well as the ITF Davis Cup Group Two play-offs against Lebanon in September, and the Pan American Games in Chile, starting in October.

Robert Bailey

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