#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, Sydney Clarke is hoping that she can pack her bags and head off to Birmingham, Alabama, in August to begin her freshman year at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) on a tennis scholarship.
#While she signed her letter of intent in December, the country’s top junior female tennis player last week received her acceptance letter to attend UAB.
#Clarke is currently completing her studies for graduation at Windsor School where she spent the past three years after transferring from CR Walker Secondary High School.
#“I chose UAB because it’s the perfect fit for me. They have my programmes that I want to pursue in business and journalism and I like the environment, people around me who I met. Just the whole atmosphere, I felt it was a great environment and I feel I will strive and do very well there,” said Clarke, who visited the campus in October.
#On receiving her acceptance letter, Clarke said she’s very “excited” and can’t “wait to go.” She’s just hoping that the travel restrictions will be lifted by the Bahamas Government by then and she can make the trek to the United States.
#Although they are some strict curfew rules imposed by the government to contain the coronavirus, Clarke said she’s just trying to stick to them. But at the same time, she’s trying to strike a balance by juggling her time with her studies and her training routine so she can get ready for the college life ahead of her.
#“Whatever little I can do, I’m trying to do so I don’t get bored,” said Clarke, who is uncertain as to when she will graduate as school is currently closed. “I’m trying to stay motivated so when the time comes, I will be ready.”
#While she’s restricted to online classes at home, Clarke also works out there with a video call from her coach Rachel LeFaldo through her daily sessions.
#“My experience at Windsor has been great. I’ve accomplished so much there,” said Clarke, who attends the co-ed Cambridge registered, boarding day school for ages 3-18 along with fellow tennis player Jacobi Bain, who is currently completing the 10th grade.
#“I’ve been able to improve my level of tennis and be able to compete with my competitors and travel more. The staff has really worked with me and has helped me in everything that I do.”
#UAB, according to Clarke, has given her some things to prepare herself for enrolment, including a grade point average of 2.70 and above, which she has secured as a member of the tennis team that has produced the highest GPA at Windsor School.
#The 18-year-old, who is the eldest of two children of Bernard and Shayvon Clarke, said she will definitely miss home. But she is confident that she will still have an impact as she motivates her younger sister, Sarai, who is following in her footsteps as one of the top rising tennis players.
#“She’s doing very well. Whatever I do, she trys to do it even better, so looks to me as well to motivate her, so I’m happy with that,” said Clarke of her 11-year-old sister who is also expected to graduate this year from TG Glover.
#With the country in a 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns to try and combat the further spread of the coronavirus, Clarke encourages the Bahamian people to continue to pray and follow the guidelines being given by the government.
#“We can get through this. We just have to stay positive,” she stated. “We just have to pray and listen to the authorities, keep a positive attitude, stay indoors and we can get through this.”
#As soon as the coronavirus has ceased, Clarke said she intends to “visit the rest of my family and friends and get back on the tennis court.”
#Clarke completed her junior year in December when she finished as the runner-up at the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s Giorgio Baldacci Invitational at the National Tennis Centre.
#Kerrie Cartwright won the title and she along with Clarke earned the top two spots on the Fed Cup team. They were joined by Larikah Russell and Simone Pratt following a final team trial in March.
#The quartet was scheduled to travel to Panama City, Panama, in June for the Americas Group II competition in the Fed Cup. But the International Tennis Federation has joined all other international sporting bodies in calling off all sporting events due to the spread of the coronavirus.
#No date has been set for the resumption of any competition as yet.