Q&A with T&T tennis starlet, Jordane Dookie (ITF Junior Ranking – 968)

National junior tennis standout Jordane Dookie recently signed an agreement to join Lewis University after she completes CSEC exams in June. Jordane was well travelled in 2023, collecting several titles on ITF tours throughout the Caribbean and South and Central America. She also claimed two titles right at home at the National Racquet Sports Centre in Tacarigua.

Jordane, currently 968th on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Rankings, took a moment during the holiday season to chat with SporTT about her progress in the past season, and her plans for 2024.

Q: How did you enjoy 2023 on the court?

A: It’s been a tiring but really successful year, as I came out victorious in most of my ‘ITF Tours’, including five doubles titles in a row. Teaming up with my great partner, Serena Bryan from Barbados, we were able to string together four of the five victories during the year.

Overall, there was great success and [many] learning experiences as there were [more] challenges in the ‘singles’ [competition] compared to the ‘doubles’, but I learnt something different in each and every match and continue to improve my game.

Q: What has such a busy schedule meant for Jordane off the court?

A: Things have been pretty good, a little stressful at times being in Form 5 and getting all the work done as we’re preparing for the big [CSEC] exam. However, juggling both has its ups and downs, but luckily with my friends and teachers [at St. Joseph Convent, POS] helping me along the way, it has been beneficial, and I am glad to have their support.

I think I am balancing both well, though… I’m still an ‘A’ student even with all the travelling and days away from the classroom, but it comes with putting in the extra hours after being on the court.

Q: Tell us about your plans for 2024…

A: I am really excited for [the new] year since I recently signed with Lewis University (LU) and will be joining them from next summer. The process of seeking a university was fun but challenging at times as we had to reach out to coaches and show them why I should be selected to join their team by sending them videos or travelling for sessions.

I was looking to sign for a ‘Division One’ (D1) tennis school but with LU being a D2 university it is still a really great option and has opportunities for me to develop my tennis career while still furthering my education.

Q: Any upcoming tournaments to look out for?

A: I am stressfully considering competing in some, but I know I would not be as active on the court in the beginning half of the year [due to CSEC exams preparations]. However, I am looking at participating in two ITF J100s [tournaments]… scheduled for early January in Costa Rica. Other than this I might just compete in some weekend tournaments and other smaller matches, or when I head to Miami on vacation.

Q: Sounds like you don’t have a lot of spare time…

A: *Laughs* With the little bit I get, I would try to hang out with my friends, [enjoy] family dinners or sometimes just relax at home on my recovery days and watch Netflix.

Q: You’re quite focused on education as well. Do you have a favourite subject?

A: I do not particularly have a favourite but I like the sciences like Biology and Chemistry. Moving forward I’d like to study in the Biomedical Sciences field or Sports Medicine but I’m still currently deciding on it. Also, LU has an amazing Aeronautic programme, which looks tempting to consider as well.

Q: Playing on the national team is clearly a big achievement. How has that experience been?

A: Earlier in the year we participated in the Junior Billie Jean King Cup, where we did pretty well by reaching the quarterfinal stages. We should have pushed through to reach the semis and even the finals, but it was a tough match at that time for the team, but it was an enjoyable experience.

Honestly, with all the ITF tournaments I’ve been participating in and flying the T&T flag, it is always amazing. One of the best things is meeting new people and they’re inquisitive as to where T&T is, and you get to describe and explain our culture since a lot of them don’t know much about our beautiful twin islands. So, getting our name and flag out there is a proud moment for me.

Q: You’re currently 968th on the ITF Junior rankings… what does this mean to you?

A: It is amazing getting to see all the hard work [paying] off. With all those mini goals I have been setting, and by reaching and achieving them, it shows progress in the right direction. I’m glad to keep making myself, my coaches and my country proud.

Q: You’ve played quite a bit at the National Racquet Sports Centre in Tacarigua. How does it compare to other tennis venues?

A: The facility has been really great for my training, and I really like the fact we can utilise it when it is raining, because of the indoor courts. This is integral, especially right before having to head out to perform at various tournaments.

Whenever foreign players visit to play as well, they’re really amazed because, honestly, it is one of the best I’ve played in as well. I would like to see us hosting more tournaments to showcase T&T and develop the game of tennis even more on our shores.

Q: There are many talented junior players in T&T. Who are some of the other players to watch?

A: I train with a couple of the junior guys on occasions like Kale Dalla-Costa along with Zachary and Sebastian Bing, so I have been tracking and looking at their progress as well especially on the ITF circuits. I like to see their elevation because it is like I’m helping them and they’re helping me improve our games and that’s fun witnessing first-hand.

Q: What other sport would you play if you hadn’t selected professional tennis?

A: Football. I was “ah li’l big in the football” since I always liked playing it. I used to play up until Form 1 and I had to choose between football and tennis, so that would be the go-to sport.

Q: Finally, what advice can you share with other up-and-coming athletes?

A: Keep working hard and continue developing your game. Do not give up in training or in practice, always remember to fight and give it your all. For tennis athletes, just enjoy growth, as it is not just the physical aspect but also it enhances your mental aspect. This helps you balance not only [improving as a player] but your being as a holistic individual.

SporTT wishes Jordane and her family all the best for 2024, and by extension, the tennis fraternity and the Tennis Association of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT). Continue to make T&T proud!