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Reece Carter has some lofty career goals for a kid still a few months shy of her teens, but she’s such a smash that it seems unwise to disregard her as a dreamer.

The 12-year-old from St. Andrews is truly one of country’s up-and-coming tennis stars and is hoping to leave a lasting impression at the upcoming Canada Summer Games. 

SUPPLIED</p><p>Reece Carter has her sights set on a professional tennis career — a dream she appears to have the talent to achieve.</p>

SUPPLIED

Reece Carter has her sights set on a professional tennis career — a dream she appears to have the talent to achieve.

One provincial tennis insider noted she just might be "the best female player to come out of Manitoba in 30 years."

Reece, who begins Grade 8 at St. Mary’s Academy in September, is thinking much, much bigger.

"I want to be a professional tennis player," she said Wednesday. "It’s my ultimate dream, so that means working really hard every single day, pushing my limits, challenging myself to be one of the best."

Reece is ranked in the top 10 in Canada for female players 14 and under and has already played across Canada and in places such as Germany, Austria, Florida and New York with much success.

She placed seventh in girls’ singles and reached the semifinals in girls’ doubles at the Under 14 Indoor Rogers Junior Tennis Nationals in Vancouver in April. A month later in Montreal, she represented Canada at the Challenge Cup — featuring athletes born in 2004 — and battled some of the premier juniors from south of the border.

Reece leaves Sunday for a national tournament in Ottawa and arrives back in Winnipeg just in time for the second week of the Canada Games. The tennis event will be held Aug. 7 to 11 at the Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club on North Drive.

She’s excited to don provincial colours and join more than 300 Manitoba athletes competing on home turf.

"This is my first Canada Games so I’m really excited to play. It’s a big highlight of my summer," she said. "Tennis is an individual sport, so when you get an opportunity like the Canada Games to be on a team you don’t take that for granted. It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

Actually, not likely. She’ll be just 16 and a potential star when the 2021 Games are held in the Niagara Region. The 5-2, 110-pound player is in tough as she faces opponents five years her senior — still, that’s nothing new.

"I’m usually always the younger one. It can be challenging and a bit frightening when I see how much bigger and stronger the older girls are. But I have to stick to my game plan and just focus," said Reece, who trains 3 1/2 hours a day, six days a week, all year long.

She got her first taste of tennis when she was only five and it’s been true love ever since.

"We were down in Florida on a vacation and there was a tennis court nearby where we were staying and then we just went to Walmart and bought some tennis rackets and me and my dad started playing," she said.

"I just really loved the sport after that. I started going into tournaments when I was seven and now I’m going all over the world, it seems like."

Provincial coach Jared Connell said Reece is already the best under-18 player in Manitoba — and it’s not a stretch to consider her the best female player in the province.

"She’s definitely very good," he said. "There is not a lot of depth in our province and it’s been good for her to travel and get the experience that she needs."

Reece is joined on Manitoba’s female tennis team by Elinor Shpunt, Monika Popovic and Maya Arksey, while Ana Clara Gusmini is the alternate. The male team is Stefan Barre, Marcello Audino, Sahand Marzban and Shawn Sophasath, while the alternates are Adith Premathilaka and James Kim.

Connell said the Games will be a tremendous opportunity for a youthful Manitoba tennis team to gain valuable experience, however the big four — B.C., Alberta, Quebec and Ontario — will challenge for spots on the podium.

"This is a developmental team, for sure," he said.

"We’re emphasizing what a unique and exciting opportunity it is to compete at home. We’re young and we’re the underdogs. But we want them to be the best they can be. If they compete their hardest, that’s all we can ask for."

That shouldn’t be a problem for Reece — according her mother, Danya Carter.

"She’s very driven. She gets something in her mind and she’s going to work hard at it," says Danya. "She’s that kid that never complains about going to practice, even if it’s 5 a.m. before school. She never complains because she loves it.

"She knows what she’s up against (at the Canada Games). She’s going to fight. She’s willing to give it her best and she just might surprise us all."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

 

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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