Truro Tennis Club members excited for Canada Games experience
Ready to hit the court
TRURO - This may be their first Canada Games, but it isn't the first time they've played on the national stage.
Dennis Keaveney, Farina Rafiq and Stephanie Bagnell know a little about what to expect when they step on the court at the Games. The three Truro Tennis Club members open the competition, which will be held at Victoria Park in Charlottetown, Sunday and compete until Thursday.
Although they know the competition will be tough, the trio knows having experience at national tournaments should serve them well.
"Definitely," Rafiq said. "Because we've competed against the top athletes in every province. It was a real eye-opener."
Keaveney, 15, has competed at the national championships each summer since 2007, while Rafiq, 16, did so this summer and in 2007. Bagnell, 17, competed this year.
Even though the three are familiar with national-calibre competition, they're still excited to see it in a different light.
"We're really excited to represent the province," Keaveney said.
"We feel privileged," Bagnell added.
The athletes were named to the team after being selected through a tryout camp over the winter in Halifax. Rafiq's sister Rumana was also named to the team as an alternate.
Since then, they have been practicing with the team and as much as they can on their own time to get ready for the Games.
Truro Tennis Club manager Bruce Wright feels their effort will pay off at the event.
"If it doesn't it won't be for a lack of effort," Wright said. "They have been working hard and their families have been committed."
That effort has been showing this summer leading up to the Games. Bagnell is the current Atlantic under-18 girls champion, while Rafiq and Keaveney were finalists in the Atlantic under-16 division.
Bagnell will be competing in singles at Canada Games, while Rafiq will team up with Dartmouth's Julia Gray in girls doubles. Keaveney and partner Brendan Nickerson, of Dartmouth, will challenge in boys doubles.
All three Truro club members feel they're playing their best tennis heading into the Games.
Keaveney makes no bones about his ambition.
"I want to win every single match," he said. "We've been playing really well and we're used to each other's styles and are really comfortable with each other."
Bagnell and Rafiq said they're also looking to be successful, but added making the most of the experience is important to them too.
"I just want to play well and have a good time," Bagnell said. "I'll try my best."
Rafiq said the key to their success will be concentrating on their own games.
"We just have to stay focused and try not to get overwhelmed because there are going to be strong players there who can hit the ball hard."