Tennis to come to the real grassroots
February 5, 2010

Tennis to come to the real grassroots

An initiative spearheaded by former President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tennis Association (SVGTA) Grant Connell could see a further break-through in the social barrier of Tennis here.{{more}}

The long standing Haddon Hotel Tennis Courts at Murray’s Road is the place earmarked for the rebirth of the interest in Tennis and the creation of opportunities for children from a low socio-economic background.

Connell is the man behind the refurbishing of the courts and other amenities at the facility owned by the Da Siva brothers.

“What we have done is cut and patch repair the perimeter fence and improve the club house,” said Connell, as he described the objectives and some details of the project last Wednesday afternoon to SEARCHLIGHT.

“The project is mainly to allow those kids who cannot afford it to come and play Tennis,” Connell revealed.

“On Saturdays, children from the rural areas can access the club in what will be called: “Bring your racket and come,” Connell disclosed.

“What we want to do is create the nexus between talent and opportunities,” Connell, a former local Junior singles champion, told SEARCHLIGHT.

“Although the social barriers have been broken down, there remains that financial constraint,” Connell said.

“I have seen youths who have the talent, but could not afford to pay for a racket. There are those who cannot pay the $10 and $15 on a Saturday morning,” Connell, who is also a Lawyer by profession added.

“It may sound like a meagre sum, but it adds up,” Connell continued.

Connell stated that for the Saturday morning programme, several coaches have already expressed their willingness to give of their services to the children.

This Saturday, February 6, there will be a try out of the surface, with its formal opening set for the following Saturday, February 13.

“We are welcoming any number of children, any age group. When the numbers swell, we hope space is found at the National Tennis Centre for them,” Connell quipped.

“Money should not be a determining factor as to how far a player can get. What the players want are those opportunities,” he pointed out.

“What if Adonal Foyle was not spotted, where he will be today in Basketball?” Connell questioned.

Connell recalled at least one player in his time, who could have progressed from a good player on the local scene, to a great player on the regional or even international scene, but lacked that extra push, opportunity, to take him to the next level.

Connell took a swipe at the National Sports Council: “The facilities were here all the time. The Sports Council should be the ones behind this venture, getting the youths off the block and getting do something positive.”

On the other hand, Connell was high in praise for the Da Silva brothers for their support of Tennis.

Connell said that through their foresight, players like Andre Prince, John Frederick and Anthony Boyea, who has played at the Davis Cup level, and is a certified Level Two Tennis Coach, are products of the Haddon Hotel Tennis Courts.

Connell was tight-lipped as to the others involved in the project. Neither was he prepared to give an overall cost of the project, but said: “There are persons who are willing to contribute, but they will be made public in time.”

An often controversial figure, Connell welcomed the presence of International Tennis Federation expert and tutor, Surinamese John Goede, who is here on a four month stint, and commended current President of the SVGTA, Anthony Mc Kenzie, who he opined “is doing his best.”

However, Connell is hoping that on completion of Goede’s programme, what he calls the crab in a barrel mentality does not return.