As promised last week, On Target announced that should nothing be done by some of those national sporting associations which are failing to get their acts together, they will be called out one by one.
Hence, this week’s edition is dedicated to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tennis Association.
It is somewhat heart wrenching to see tennis make such a free-fall, from being at one time, the number one association, to the point now of almost being unrecognizable.
That is the state of play of the sport, which has gone through turmoil since its halcyon days of the mid-2000 to 2010 or there about.
Making an incision into what has gone wrong, one will come up with several factors which would have contributed to the demise of tennis.
Chief among the woes is that of administration. For years, there has been a struggle, a never- ending fight to get committed persons to steer the course of the association in a direction which ensures growth, stability and a secured tennis future for the young players.
Because of that protracted instability in administration, popularity of the sport has waned considerably. Hence, save and except the few coaches who are basically engaging their charges in hitting balls and some intra-academy matches, little by way of competition has been forthcoming.
As a consequence, Vincentian players are no longer known on the regional circuit. This, as a lack of tournaments here on the local front, does not allow them to venture out.
And, even if they do, our players are less than equipped to provide meaningful challenges to their opponents.
Our current predicament also gives rise to our players being unable to procure tennis scholarships in the US. So, gone are the days when this was a given occurrence.
Critically, the once pride and joy National Tennis Centre located at Villa, which was envied by many of our counterparts, is a mere shadow of itself. Absent is that picturesque look, the verdant lawns and well-kept courts of the facility.
It is indeed not a good sight, that an investment by the Taiwanese government two decades ago, be left to ruin, and degenerate into a facility that is unwelcomed and uninviting.
This is against the reality that three years ago, a few thousands well were spent on refurbishing some sections of the facility in time for the magic wand – SVG Cup.
Even before that failed and duped SVG Cup, our status gained as best host for Junior ITF tournaments had signs of considerable decline.
Things have exacerbated to the point where we are off the hosting radar.
One cannot stop to count the economic loss which the country has suffered with the absence of these tournament. Hosting more than 100 persons, inclusive of players, coaches, parents and others over a seven-day period, add much earnings to the various players in the hospitality sector. Not withstanding that over the past year and half, it was unlikely for us to host such tournaments, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Checking back prior, tennis for the past ten years has become a sport that is wedged between a rock and a hard place.
Therefore, it is pointless that we continue to revel in nostalgia, whine in the sorrows of poor administration; mope on what we have not achieved and wish we could be like our neighbours in the region.
Holding on for the pie in the sky, or the throwing of a coin in a wishing well and wait for a miracle to happen to St Vincent and the Grenadines’ tennis, would not cut it. Change can only come if we effect it.
In saying so, this column is calling on all who have tennis at heart, come join in the massive rescue mission.
Get your administrative tools out; put aside the egos (if they do exist), bring your talent and come, and be on the life craft bound to save the sinking tennis ship.
There is no dearth of persons equipped to do that salvaging job. Many have been there, done that. They, in concert with the many young vibrant players who were the faces of junior Tennis in the past, come put your shoulders to the wheel.
The likes of Corey Huggins, Kirk Da Silva, Fabrice George and Justin John, who have the know how and the tennis experience, it is your time to give back.
Around and still with some administrative spunk, are a few past presidents, who for certain, should be boiling with dismay of the turn of events of the sport they headed. Erase that shame that tennis has brought and let the sport smile again.
Every national sporting association has its peaks and valleys, but tennis has been resting comfortably in the valley for too long.