Number one ranked local tennis player in the Under 14 Age Group, Tomas del Olmo, center, shows off the trophy he won last month in Puerto Rico.
Above (L to R) Tomas and Luca del Olmo, Patrice Harley and Afredo del Olmo at the Cruz Bay tennis courts.
St. John brothers Tomas del Olmo and Luca del Olmo are leading a group of about 14 Virgin Islands tennis players who are making their presence known on the local circuit.
Tomas del Olmo, just shy of his 14th birthday, won the USTA Junior 14 and Under Tournament in Puerto Rico last month. The Gifft Hill School eighth grader beat a total of 31 opponents on his way to taking home the first place trophy and now is the number one ranked tennis player at his age group in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
In this recent win, Tomas del Olmo was able to figure out how to overcome his opponent, he explained.
“I had lost to him several times and this time I figured out how to play him,” he said. “I had to keep the ball in and keep getting it back to him. I couldn’t overpower him.”
The strategy worked as Tomas del Olmo won in the USTA Junior Under 14 Tournament in Puerto Rico by a score of 6-1 and 6-2.
His older brother Luca del Olmo, 16, has consistently been ranked among the top players in his age group in the Virgin Islands as well. Both brothers are often found with their father Alfredo del Olmo at the Cruz Bay tennis courts practicing hard every day after school.
That practice obviously is paying off. Only three years since they started training the del Olmo boys are making a name for themselves.
“Tomas always says that his brother helps him to play better,” said Alfredo del Olmo. “They are both ranked in the top of the Virgin Islands, but more importantly they are ranked in the top in Puerto Rico where there are more players.”
The family travels to Puerto Rico for tournaments about twice a month where the brothers play doubles and also push each other to play better, their father explained.
“When we started playing three years ago, we were getting eliminated in the first round or the second round,” said Alfredo del Olmo. “Then they started to win and get into the later rounds. Now we are in the championship match playing last in the weekend.”
The brothers practice for two to three hours every day after school and also assist Patrice Harley in leading a Friday clinic for young tennis players. Among those younger players is Malena del Olmo, who at 8 years old might be the best tennis player in the family, according to Dad.
“She’s going to be the best,” he said. “She’s really talented.”
Athletics is in the del Olmo’s bloodline as their mother is a former Olympic swimmer and their father has always been an avid athlete.
“We have always liked sports and have always thought it is important,” said Alfredo del Olmo. “Since they’ve started playing tennis they want to train every day and want to come out here all the time.”
The trio often have talented players who stop by the court while on their vacations and join in the practice games, Alfredo del Olmo added.
“Just being on the court here every day, a lot of people stop by and help coach,” he said. “Sometimes really good players stop by who are on vacation and just want to play.”
While he enjoys the physical aspects of tennis, the best part of the sport is meeting the other players and coaches, explained Tomas del Olmo.
“I like the people I meet at the tournaments when we travel,” he said. “It’s fun and you see a lot of the same people so you become good friends.”
The del Olmo brothers are two of a rising group of young tennis players from the territory.
Congratulations Tomas and Luca del Olmo!