On Target
April 1, 2011

The cup runneth over

It is almost unthinkable that the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tennis Association should have reached the stage that for two consecutive attempts to hold Annual General Meetings there cannot be a quorum to carry out the business.{{more}}

True, that is where the sport has sadly sunk, to a point that no one wants to be a part of an organization which once displayed efficiency and held a healthy administrative standing.

However, all that has changed, and serving on the Executive has become like cow itch, as no one wants to come into contact with it.

Evidence that the national Tennis ship is sinking, President of the SVGTA, Anthony Mc Kenzie, at another attempt to stage an Annual General Meeting last week Wednesday evening at the National Tennis Centre at Villa, in which there should have been elections of a new Executive, Mc Kenzie sent out an SOS to those willing to come aboard.

But the problems and challenges confronting the SVGTA have been mounting over time, and have reached the point where the cup runneth over.

The rising cost of maintaining the National Tennis Centre at Villa is one of the major impediments.

Donated by the Taiwanese some 11 years ago, the facility is aging and the running overheads are becoming problematic, as the use of the courts is not generating enough revenue.

The SVGTA can boast as a national sporting body to have a home which it can call its own, but its upkeep to match international standards adds to the predicament.

And, a way must be found soonest to correct this.

Accruing debts from successive hosting of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Championships has put the SVGTA in a position of little bargaining status for sponsorship.

This certainly has crippled the administrative capacity of the SVGTA, as it has become like a millstone around the association’s neck.

Also, the bickering among past Executive members, much of which found its way in the public domain and may have acted as a deterrent to persons who are wiling the serve, surely must have impacted negatively on the business community, who may not have wanted their names to be dragged into the dirt.

Hence, there are fewer tournaments to engage the youngsters.

Also, many persons do not see the need to get involved because their children are no longer active; therefore, there are not many direct benefits which would come their way.

But, most of all is the issue of the development of the various Tennis schools and academies, and their coaches.

Whilst, there is always that inevitable sense of belonging and affinity that are developed between the coaches and their charges, the perennial “fight down” syndrome among the coaches continues to show its head, thus hindering the progress of the sport.

What is unfolding, though, is to each his own, and no one is prepared to have an overall systematic approach to the development of the players.

The promise of an organized system of coaching through the National Olympic Committee/ SVGTA partnership, when last year, Surinamese John Goede was brought here to establish a development of a national sport structure for Tennis seemed not to have had much impact, based on some reports from some coaches.

So, Tennis operations continue to be confined to the urban areas, which has also contributed to the contraction of the sport.

Many years ago, I was part of group of teachers who were involved in the mini Tennis programme which introduced students to the sport, with minimum expense to their parents.

Then, there were inter-primary schools competitions, which netted some good talent.

What it also did was to chip away at the perception that Tennis was reserved for persons with a light pigmentation of the skin, and those from a particular socio- economic status.

The woes of Tennis cannot get worse, so the time is rife for those who love it, to save it from further degradation.

It was worthy of Mc Kenzie to stand up like a man and try to rudder the association in its turmoil to a haven of safety.

So already there is someone willing, what is needed now are a few committed persons to revive Tennis, and make it once more a viable and vibrant sport.

The cup also runneth over in the call for the complete removal of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.