Michael Major Jr
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#HE’S off to a promising career as one of the rising young tennis players in the country. But like everybody else, Michael Major Jr has been forced to work out from home with no activities for players in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association or the International Tennis Federation as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
#But unlike some of the other young players, who are subject to the same conditions, Major Jr has the full support from both of his parents, Bernadette ‘Chips’ and Michael Major Sr, to help him get through the 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns imposed by the Bahamas government to avoid the further spread of the virus in the country.
#Major Jr, who turned 14 on Wednesday, May 6 with a birthday cake, some sushi and a time to play some video games, said it has been a vigorous process, but he’s taking it in stride, working on his physical fitness.
#“Since I already have the stroke aspect of tennis, I have been trying to get my body physically stronger,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of strengthening workouts, flexibility and things like that.”
#Confined to home, Major Jr said his parents have insisted that he continue to work hard in practice and apply himself academically so that whenever school resumes, the ninth grader at St John’s College will be prepared to continue his studies. “You have to have the mentality that you want to be the best and in order to be the best, you have to work hard,” he said. “It’s basically you putting it in your head that you want to be the best tennis player ever. You can’t think about being mediocre. You have to think about being the best.”
#Right now, he’s enjoying the online classes, which enables him to “do all of my work at once, instead of having so much break and then I can have the rest of time off to train and do other things.”
#But Major Jr said he was eager to see if he could have duplicated last year’s feat as the No.1 male player in the under-14 and under-16 divisions, even though he would have been moved up to the under-18 category this year.
#“I wanted to break all of my records from last year,” said Major Jr. “But it’s kind of disappointing because I knew I became a better player this year and I could have done some things phenomenal, so from that aspect, it was kind of disappointing.”
#It’s a lesson learned for Major Jr, but his mother Bernadette, said it’s a labour of love giving her son all of the support that he needs at this time.
#“This is a pandemic, so there’s nothing that we can do about it,” she said. “The Prime Minister has mandated that we stay at home, so we make sure that MJ still has his classes. I am working from home as well, so I help my husband to make sure that MJ properly juggles his time. “Right now, we are basically focusing on his physical fitness level because he’s not on the tennis court. So we do a lot of fitness with him from between 4-6pm. We set that time aside from Monday to Friday for him to do that. So far, it’s been working out pretty well. He can’t wait to get back on the tennis court.”
#Major, who got her son involved in the sport from an early age, said they miss the camaraderie being around the tennis court with the other players and parents, but they try to manage the circumstances that they all find themselves in until the sanctions are lifted.
#“We are making sure that he stays healthy, eats the proper food and do what he needs to do,” stressed Major, a banker by profession. “So far, it’s been working out.”
#As for his academics, Major said they were looking at a home school programme to place their son in, but her husband wasn’t quite sure if it was the right way to go.
#She noted that they are now forced into a “trial basis” to see if this is the direction they will take moving forward.
#“Once the wifi continues to function and the lights stay on, we can manage it,” she stated. “But for the most part, he’s actually focused. He knows his schedule. Once he has his breakfast, he logs into his studies and gets his work done. I think he just misses being around his friends in school from that social aspect.
#“But so far it’s been working out very well because my husband is really big on his education. I like balance. I focus on education too, but I like the balance. I believe that while he has to do his studies, he can still train and get some time to play some video games.”
#Now a full-time tennis mom after she retired as one of the country’s top female pitchers in the sport of softball, Major said there’s no question as to where her interest is right now.
#“I love watching my son play, but if you get me on the softball field, I could still jam,” said Major, who officially hung up her cleats and gloves in 2006 when she gave birth to her son.
#“I felt I had my time playing sports, so it’s my son’s time. I now have to be there for him. I have no regrets. I’m still staying in shape because I have no other choice having a son who is an athlete.”
#There’s no doubt about it that whenever Major Jr is playing, either locally or on the international scene, you can guarantee to see either one or both of his parents on the sidelines watching and cheering him on.
#“MJ can’t practice on the court, but he’s still training,” said Major Sr, a croupier at Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. “He’s doing everything like the warm up drills, running around the house and still using his tennis racket, but hitting the ball against the fence and the wall, just to stay in shape. He’s doing that every day, twice a day.”
#Not known for any sporting prowess like his wife, Major Sr said whenever his son is not getting his coaching lessons from veteran tennis player/coach Marvin Rolle, he’s there to help encourage Major Jr, whom he stressed is self motivated to do what is necessary to get through a working session. “You tell him what he needs to do and he does it,” Major Sr said. “He knows how to follow instructions and he’s a very focused young man.”
#Once the national sanctions are lifted and sporting personalities can resume their normal life, Major Jr said he will be more than anxious to get back on the court and playing tennis than anything else. “I want to be able to play division one tennis,” said Major Jr, who hopes to one day become a professional tennis player. “I can’t wait to start playing again. I still have a lot more to accomplish in this sport.”
#Among the list of achievements so far in Major Jr’s young career are:
#Subway Freeport – 14s winner and 16s runner-up
#COTECC, Guatemala – 14s quarter-finals
#Coral Springs, Florida – 14s winner
#JITIC Trinidad – 14s quarter-finals
#Jr Nationals Nassau – 14s winner and 16s runner-up
#FOCOL Grand Bahama – 14s, 16s and 18s winner
#Orange Bowl Florida – 14s participant