Since arriving at IMG Academy in January, life has been pretty busy for 17-year old Jade Wilkinson.
“School in the morning, then practice in the afternoon. Then a little more practice after the group practice and then study hall.”
After playing in Cayman’s smaller talent pool, she’s finally getting a chance to compete against higher competition.
“I practice with girls at my level, a little above and below my level. I get to play against a lot of different players.”
Wilkinson says it’s yielded immediate results.
“I’ve improved a lot, my serve is better, my forehand is better, my slice has improved a lot.”
Even her coach, former collegiate player Yana Koroleva can see the difference.
“If you’re playing someone whose stronger, you have to be patient win in 5, 6, 7 balls. I think she’s getting better in that for sure.”
Wilkinson is also a Dart Minds Inspired Scholar, receiving tuition assistance since 2016. The company even allowed her to apply the subsidy upon enrollment at IMG, approximately 22% of the cost. The academy is pitching in as well, providing 25% of the school’s tuition. It’s a dream scenario for a girl who has loved tennis her entire life. There’s just one problem: it’s not quite enough. The Wilkinson’s are short about $40,000 USD, and they’re doing what they can to keep Jade in school.
“We are trying to supplement the money by fundraising for Jade.”
Mother LaRene Wilkinson is hoping Cayman will reward her daughter’s dream, after years of hard work and dedication to the sport she loves.
“Jade’s very driven, she’s very passionate about what she does, she’s been that way since she was a little girl.
Holding back tears, mother LaRene knows how much it means to her daughter. That’s because it means even more to herself and her husband Martin. After all, what’s more satisfying to a parent than their own child’s success?
“Jade does deserve this, she’s worked very hard, she’s spent a lot of time on court. She’s sacrificed a lot of her social life to get her academics where it needs to be.”
Jade says perhaps her success can inspire others to never to give up and shoot for the stars.
“Coming from Cayman, you don’t get to see the big picture all the time, so me going to there I feel it kind of opens everyone’s eyes. It can happen for you. Go find better opportunities and fulfill your dreams.”
The Wilkinson’s have raised $5,000 so far with $35,000 to go. They’ve created a GoFundMe account to help keep Jade’s dream alive.