THE name Heather Watson may sound unfamiliar to most Papua New Guineans but believe it or not, she is the first part Papua New Guinean to etch her name in the elite junior tennis competition in the US Open.
According to BBC sports website, she had become the first Briton to claim the US Open girls’ singles title, when she beat Russian Yana Buchina 6-4, 6-1, in straight sets at Flushing Meadows, USA, on Monday.
The new junior girl’s US Open champion was born on May 19, 1992, in Guernsey, UK, to mother Michelle, originally from Papua New Guinea, and father Ian, an electrical engineer.
She has one brother Adam and two sisters, Stephanie and Julie.
She started playing tennis at THE AGE OF nine.
In 2006, Watson won the British U14 championship. The following year, she claimed the U16 title and reached the semi-finals of the U18 the following year, where she lost to eventual winner Tara Moore last October.Last year, she travelled to Pune, India, and competed in the Commonwealth Youth Games, unnoticed by the PNG Sports Federation officials and Team PNG management.
She won a gold medal for Great Britain in the games.
She trains at the Nick Bolletteri Tennis Academy in Florida, USA, under the watchful eyes of coach Andrew Fisher.
Watson is the top ranked junior female player in the UK and rated 21 among British women in the game.
In world ranking, she is the ranked 14 among junior girls and 764th overall.
The Papua New Guinea Tennis Federation was surprised with the news that a part Papua New Guinean was the US Open winner in the junior girls’ division.
Veteran coach Kwalam Apisah said it was good news for PNG as under the International Tennis Federation laws, she can still represent PNG at the Pacific, Oceania, Commonwealth and the Olympic Games.
Apisah, who dug deep to recall more information about the Watson family, said a lot of expatriates who married PNG women or vice versa have offspring, who can represent PNG at international tournaments like the US Open.
Apisah said he would have to confirm some details about the family with his son Lawrence Tere-Apisah, who is in the British navy in Great Britain.
Lawrence was among the first PNG tennis players to benefit from tennis scholarships to attend the regional tennis college in Fiji, USA and eventually capping it off with a job in the British navy.