Tennis longing for a big serve
For the better part of the last decade, the sport of tennis here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, has taken a nose dive.
The steady decline has been two-fold, namely in administration and the popularity of the sport.
Unfortunately, the many public spats among members of the tennis fraternity during the period of the downturn, did little to help the image. Neither has been the change of personnel on the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tennis Association (SVGTA). It is therefore sad that in 2021, tennis has fallen back to the point of having little recognition and regarded as a minor sport.
All said, St Vincent and the Grenadines was the pride and joy of the Eastern Caribbean as the National Tennis Centre at Villa was the envy of others.
The exquisite facilities ushered in a new era, a new fervour, as regional tournaments rolled in at will, bringing with them loads of foreign extra. Not to be left out was the fact that St Vincent and the Grenadines became more known to the wider world, enhancing our tourism product and the Vincentian brand as a destination.
That halcyon period also saw many tennis courses as well as the export of young talent to colleges and universities in the United States of America.
But that beacon of sports here, at one point shining the pathway for others to follow, has sunken to a mere silhouette.
Many should recall the days of the primary schools’ competitions, the frequent junior tennis tournaments. These regular tournaments spawned unprecedented interest in tennis.
At that point, coaches were enthused and there emerged a zeal and desire, which naturally allowed for the sport to flourish.
Likewise, at the other end of the age spectrum, the battles for tennis supremacy were intense among the senior players.
All that have been replaced by dribs and drabs of junior tennis tournaments, although there was the return of the Primary and Secondary schools’ tournaments in 2019.
Current SVGTA president, Brian Nash and the one or two persons who are holding the fort for the sport, must be commended for their bravery in helping to keep tennis afloat.
He was the man in charge when the National Lotteries Authority spent a sizeable sum of money on the refurbishing of the National Tennis Centre, to host the Island Cup in October of 2018.
Nash must be also credited for taking up the mantle when the presidency of the SVGTA was like a poisoned chalice.
Should the tennis ship of St Vincent and the Grenadines be permitted to drift aimlessly and to an unchartered destination?
Surely, this was not the intention of those who worked from the trenches to place tennis to a point of national respect and acceptance. This was not objective for the erection of the National Tennis Centre at Villa, which was funded by the Taiwanese government.
Neither was the National Lotteries Authority’s injection of funds of the Centre three years ago, nor its input of establishing the court at the Richmond Hill, once known as the “Triangle”.
With the evident drizzle in activities and the notable lack of support for tennis, the time is rife for another rescue mission to begin.
Calling out the likes of Fabrice George, Corey Huggins, Kirk Da Silva, among others who love the sport more than just to have a sweat, it is opportune for you to come to the fore and get on board and save tennis.
Those who have served tennis in the past and did so with some level of competence, it is for you now to put back on your administrative clothing and return to lend your expertise in this the hour of need.
Tennis is too much an important sport for the development of the student-athletes of St Vincent and the Grenadines, as there are still openings for them to get an education overseas on the strength of their academics and tennis competence.
Critically, St Vincent and the Grenadines has to regain its status on the Caribbean landscape as the place to be for regional and international junior Tennis tournament.
It is now or never for us to make the move and get tennis going again!