Tuesday, March 21, 2023
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
AS he prepares to complete his high school education at Windsor High School, Michael Major Jr is now looking forward to making the transition to college.
Major Jr, one of the country’s most promising junior athletes, has officially signed his letter of intent to further his education at Howard University where he will be playing for the Bison men’s tennis team, coached by Nicholas Askew.
Major Jr, who represented the Bahamas on a number of the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s junior national tennis teams with the latest being the Jr Davis Cup in 2022, said he’s excited about being accepted to the division one college in Washington DC.
“I think this is very good for me and my family, my coaches and even my team-mates and friends at school to see all of the hard work that I’ve put into finally paying off for me,” Major Jr said. “It’s really a surreal feeling for me.”
Major Jr, who will be leaving school a year earlier at age 16 because of his strong academic achievement at Windsor High School, said he decided to go to Howard after he met the coaches and the players on the team.
“Howard has a rich history and I can learn a lot about the black history, so it just felt like a homely environment for me,” Major Jr said. “I felt like I’m already a part of the team when I visited them. I felt like this was the place that I want to be.”
According to Major Jr, the Bison has not given him an expectation for him when he comes in August. But he said he told them that it’s his goal to help Howard win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championships in his freshman year.
“I will continue to stay focused, trust my coaches and remain humble,” said Major Jr in his final months before he graduates in June. “I want to continue doing what I’ve been doing, but I want to do it at 100 percent and not let up.
“I’m coming out a year early because of my academics, but I know I will be prepared for the task ahead of me.
“I just want to thank my parents (Michael Sr and Bernadette Major) and all of my coaches at Windsor and Albany and in the BLTA for helping me to get to this point. I promise to make you all proud when I head off to school.”
Richele LeSaldo, the director of the Tennis Academy at Albany, said she had the opportunity to coach Major Jr for the past two years and based on his achievement, they are all excited about his future developments on the collegiate scene.
“MJ came into the academy as one of our scholarship players. I really wanted him in the academy, but in my first year here, I didn’t have all of the financial requirements to get him in,” she said. “As soon as we got the funding, I got him in.
“It’s been an incredible three years. He epitomizes what a student-athlete is and should be. His work ethic is amazing. He is a true ambassador for the academy the way he carries himself on and off the court and out in the community.”
LeSaldo, who has afforded scholarships to a number of Bahamians at Windsor High School through the Albany Tennis Academy, congratulated his parents for the morals they instilled in their son.
“On a day when he’s off, he’s not feeling well, but he still goes out and gives it his best shot,” she added. “He makes it so easy as an athlete to coach. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this journey with this incredible athlete, who is wrapping up his education one year early than most students.
“Howard is the perfect match for him, so I’m just happy for him. It’s just the beginning of the next step for him. I know he will strive academically and continue to pursue his dream of becoming a professional tennis player.”
LeSaldo feels Major Jr could become the Bahamas’ next big talent in the sport.
Over the past two years while he spent a lot of time training in the Bahamas at Albany, Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic said he and Major Jr have been hitting partners after he shared time with Jacobi Bain before he left for school. “He’s been able to help me in my workouts in the mornings before he goes to school and whenever we could after school,” said Raonic, who started their relationship in 2020. “He’s a very good kid. He plays a very good tennis and so I’m pleased that we get to hit together.”
As Major Jr gets ready for college, Milos said he feels he will be ready for the next step in his career.
“I think everything is coming together for him as a college tennis player,” he said. “He is a very good tennis player, but when he heads to college and he has to practice and play every weekend, he will definitely take his game to the next level.
“When you are on an island like this and you are one of the best players, you don’t always reach your full potential. But now he will compete every Friday and Saturday to play tennis and I think that will help his game to come together.”
Playing against players who are 20-21 years old will also help to push Major Jr’s game even further, according to Milos, who hopes to get his season started on the grass circuit in a few months.
Raonic was ranked in 2016 as the number three player in singles by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He is also the first Canadian male player in the Open Era to reach the Australian Open semifinals, the French Open quarterfinals and Wimbledon final. He has won a total of eight ATP Tour titles.
Major Jr’s father Major Sr thanked LeSaldo and Raonic, along with a number of persons who assisted in some way in their son’s development over the years.
“Special thank you to Esper and Linda Major, MJ’s grandparents; Mark and Vickie Knowles; coaches Richele and Glen; Bommer George; Hugo Bethel, Cassie Smith, Kaylana, Lale, Smiley, BLTA, Ricardo, Greg Clarke, Gowen Bowe, Donald Archer, Nicholas Rees, Island Luck, Asure Win, Dominic, Citi Bank staff, Marvin Rolle, Switcha Bahamas, coaches at Albany, Oneal.
“Teachers at Windsor and St John’s, Tia, staff at the Atlantis resort and Baha Mar, KJ and PJ Major, the McPhee family, Danny Rigby, coach Bain and family and Members of Parliament Leroy Major and Frankie Campbell,” Major Sr said.